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Perspectives: DeAndre Baker, The COVID-19 Challenges and More

A few random thoughts for your Sunday reading enjoyment.

The Giants veterans are set to report on Tuesday for the first round of COVID-19 testing. So ahead of that, here are a few random thoughts as we all start to get into football mode.

More on the DeAndre Baker Situation

It should not be a surprise that DeAndre Baker has not yet been told to stay away from training camp when the veterans report on July 28.

Under the terms of the CBA (Article 20, Section 4), “If a Club obtains a roster exemption for a player under contract who does not report to his Club at least five days before the final day of Preseason Training Camp … the player will not be entitled to preseason or regular season compensation until such exemption is removed.”

If Baker is to be paid while the legal system plays out, he has to report to training camp, at which point once he does, then the Giants can request a roster exemption.

Speaking of Rosters

NFL teams will need to reduce their 90-man training camp rosters to 16 by August 16. The pending release of kicker Aldrick Rosas is one such transaction that will help the Giants get closer to the limit. If Baker goes on the exemption list as is expected, that will be another.

But let me circle back to the pending Rosas transaction. I'd be surprised if the Giants rush to sign a new kicker. They don't need to--not with there being no preseason games scheduled.

The popular belief is that the Giants will reach out to former Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski given his connection to Joe Judge. Gostkowski might very well be on the radar, but I'm not necessarily sure he's a slam dunk.

If I'm the Giants, I think more long-term and look to get a player who can be the team's kicker for multiple seasons. And I also look to carry a second kicker on the practice squad just in case the primary kicker tests positive for COVID-19.


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The Players Are Getting to Play. But Will they Play According to the Rules?

I want to think that the NFL players, after their “We Want to Play” social media campaign last week, won’t engage in “risky” behavior that could expose them to COVID-19.

But when you see all these stories about how college football teams are producing enough positive tests to warrant a full-scale quarantine—Michigan State put the entire team into quarantine after one staffer and one athlete tested positive while Rutgers put their football team into quarantine after ten people tested positive for the virus—it’s fair to wonder how he NFL is going to make it through its planned season.

Although there is daily testing for the first two weeks of training camp, the results can take up to 24 hours. So, who’s to say that a player who was inadvertently was exposed to the virus, yet who is asymptomatic won't have exposed others on the team at risk by simply going about normal football activities that don't allow for social distancing?

Food for Thought

Regardless if this is his first rodeo or he’s been around, no NFL head coach can be happy with the hand that has been dealt to the league because of the novel coronavirus.

But I got to thinking about something Giants head coach Joe Judge told me when I spoke with him earlier this summer. He believed that the best-prepared teams would put themselves in the right position to find success on the field.

By that, he probably meant that if the members of the Giants came into training camp with a firm understanding of the schemes and their roles within the schemes, that was more than half the battle.

As for the physical part of it? Teams practice for a reason, and that is to put into effect what they learn in the classroom, much like a chemistry student will put some time into a lab to practice what he/she learns from a textbook and lectures.

Many of these athletes have been playing the game since they were children, so this isn’t as though they’re about to set foot on the field for the first time. The problems and sloppiness arise when you have someone that isn’t up to speed on what needs to be done. And when you have that, often that leads to the dragging down of the other ten players.

The good news is the coaches should be able to identify those players who know what they’re doing quickly. Those are the guys, regardless of whether they’re named Saquon Barkley or Joe Smith, who should survive the 1 cutdown that is coming before the padded practices.