The Eagles NovaCare practice facility in South Philadelphia is across Broad Street from Citizens Bank Park, where the Miami Marlins spent the weekend opening the Major League Baseball season against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The two facilities are socially distanced by several hundred yards mostly the pavement of a wide e street and parking lots, but is it still safe after a combination of at least 14 Marlins players and coaches tested positive for the coronavirus after a weekend visit to CBP to play the Phillies?
So bad was the outbreak that Miami’s game against the Baltimore Orioles and the Phillies game with the New York Yankees were both postponed on Monday night.
Amid this news, the Eagles veterans are reporting to camp on Tuesday, joining the rookies, select veterans and quarterbacks already on hand.
Despite the grim news, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said during a Monday morning videoconference call that he feels safe with the opening of camp at hand.
“I feel extremely safe,” said Pederson. “Obviously coming into it, there might have been some skepticism about the testing, the screening that goes on, but it’s very thorough.”
Pederson said that everyone gets tested each morning and that a screening process is required each time someone enters their facility. Everyone, he said, wears masks wherever they go inside the building.
“This is our bubble, right here at NovaCare,” said the coach. “I can’t control everything. We can’t control everything. There are probably going to be some things that come up down the road. Right now, I feel extremely safe and this is a great environment for our players to succeed in.”
Pederson chose not to comment when asked if he could reveal any players who have may already tested positive and must go through the various protocols before they can participate in camp.
The coach gave credit to various people within the organization, including team president Don Smokenski, for helping the team return to the facility as quickly and safely as possible.
“We understand that the virus is real,” said Pederson. “And we do everything in our powers to stay safe, protecting ourselves when we’re in the building, protecting our players. It’s unfortunate what’s happened, but we do have a lengthy set of protocols that we have to abide by.
“This is our new normal right now, working in these conditions … It’s something that we’re going to embrace. We’re going to make it a positive. It is what it is, and we’re going to embrace it.”
Pederson spoke for about 14 minutes on the call, so there were several unasked questions, one of which was the idea being floated in NFL circles of having a “quarantine quarterback.”
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer spoke to veteran agent Mike McCartney, who explained his idea for team to have quarterbacks on their roster that train and prepare away from the team facilities.
They would attend meeting remotely, stay up to date with the offense and week-to-week game plans and be trusted to stay in physical shape. These players would make $12,000 per week.
Pederson was asked about backup plans for players and coaches should a positive test arise.
“I thought about that quite a bit the closer I got to camp and being in the building,” said Pederson. “We have to have a plan for everything.”