BEREA, Ohio (WJW)– As the NBA restarts in a bubble and the MLB struggles to keep a consistent playing schedule amid the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL is preparing for its return.
This week, the Cleveland Browns reported to the training facility in Berea with masks, virtual meetings and a socially-distanced weight room expanded into the field house.
“It is a shared responsibility. It is something that it is not just one person’s responsibility to stay on top of. We are really going to be counting on our veterans to show some good leadership here. It is a unique time,” said head coach Kevin Stefanski on Thursday.
“I know there is a work-life balance for our players. I completely understand that, but this is such a unique time, and they have to take care of their teammates. We talk so much about being a good teammate, and one of the ways you can be a good teammate is when you leave this bubble and go into your own bubble, just making sure that you are making really sound decisions. Ultimately, you are taking care of your teammates when you do that – your teammates and your coaches.”
Next week, the team will be split into two, a “brown” team and an “orange” team, with separate workouts in the morning and afternoon. With the field house currently occupied, there were will be more practices outdoors in inclement weather.
“I feel very strongly that the protocols that they have given us, we have adhered them to a tee. The truth is we have gone past them. We are doing things in an abundance of caution that we do not even have to do,” Stefanski said.
The first-year head coach said there are lots of contingency plans and the team will be prepared to pivot during this unprecedented season, that includes if he is unable to coach because of the virus.
“The worst thing you can do is not have a plan in a year like this. For every single position – it is not just the coaching staff; we have really done this throughout our football operation – we have made sure who is the next man up, the next person up,” Stefanski said.
“We have that laid out. We talked about what your roles, what your duties and what your responsibilities are day to day because the bottom line is we have to be prepared. The worst thing you can do in a situation like this is not be prepared and start to have those conversations in the moment. We really made sure we had those conversations in the last few weeks.”
Full-team practices are scheduled to begin Aug. 14.
On Thursday, the Browns added punter Jamie Gillan to the reserve COVID-19 list. It’s a new category for a player who either tests positive or has been in quarantine for close contact with an infected person.
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