Bucs are back: 2020 training camp begins amid pandemic

Sports

Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL football quarterback Tom Brady, center in orange, is seen working out with other players at Berkeley Preparatory School in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday, May 19, 2020. (Chris Urso/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

(WFLA) – Tuesday marks the official start of training camp for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and it is as invigorating as it is demoralizing.

The National Football League has declared Tuesday, July 28, 2020, the official start of training camp for the upcoming season, the same day the league would have started camp if the coronavirus had never entered in the picture.

Quarterback Tom Brady and his rookie teammates will return to the AdventHealth training center Tuesday after completing their first and second rounds of coronavirus testing.

All but one rookie made the cut. Running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn was placed on the reserve/COVID list. He can not return until he tests negative twice.

All of the veterans will begin their first round of coronavirus testing Tuesday. Once the entire team completes their testing, they will get their physicals and begin strength and conditioning training.

The NFL, in a manner that is typical of the way the league operates on a day-to-day, season-by-season basis, is exercising its power to proceed ahead. Yes, it may not be operating at full speed, but you could argue it is accelerating toward that standard.

After weeks of negotiating, the NFL and the NFLPA reached an agreement on Friday afternoon to play a full football season in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The teams are required to rearrange their facilities to ensure six feet of separation between the players and the staff. They are utilizing a system of tiers to divide the organization into three smaller groups. Those groups will have specific roles, including who and what they can access on a daily basis.

The testing protocols extend to every player and to every staff member in those tiers. However, for all of the players and for the staff members in Tier 1 and Tier 2, they will be tested daily through the first two weeks of camp and, then, if the positivity rates remains below 5%, they will be tested every other day.

A player can choose not to participate in the season. If a player is considered to be “high risk” for COVID-19 and decides not to play, that player would get $350,000. If a player is not considered to be “high risk” for the virus and decides not to play, that player would get $150,000.

The players, who are interested in playing, will practice without pads until August 17 and, because of their insistence, they will not take the field for any preseason games prior to the start of the regular season. The opening game is between the Houston Texans and the reigning Super Bowl Champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, on Thursday, September 10.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face the New Orleans Saints on the road in Week 1. That game is scheduled to start at 4:25 on Sunday, September 13.

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