Remaining Virus Free Will Offer Competitive Advantage This Season for Seahawks
Training camps all over the NFL have begun with players being tested constantly. While pads have not started thumping yet, players have arrived in their respective camps in preparation for the upcoming season.
Some details are still being worked out with the NFL and the Players Association, but full contact practices are scheduled to begin August 17.
In case you haven't heard, the coronavirus has thrown a wrench into the entire sports world in 2020. The Olympics in Tokyo were cancelled, the NBA, MLS and NHL seasons were halted until August before they restarted in a "bubble" environment, and baseball finally started their season a few weeks ago and has encountered issues with the virus just a week into the campaign.
The NFL will be no different and it may be even more challenging given the nature of the sport, with men smashing into each other inevitably exchanging droplets of sweat and spit in the process. Players will need to be extremely vigilant off the field so they can stay on the field and play virus-free.
In the initial rounds of testing, the Seahawks do not have any positive tests among the players reporting to the VMAC in Renton and reserve offensive lineman Chance Warmack is the only one who has opted out so far.
Many other teams have had several coronavirus cases on their teams, including eight for the Vikings and seven for the Lions. In the NFC West, the Rams and 49ers both have players on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
These are results from the first rounds of testing. This will be a season-long process and Seattle may encounter positive tests down the road. For now, the Seahawks are one of seven teams in the NFL that do not have any positive tests thus far.
As the season (hopefully) rolls on, remaining vigilant against the exposure to coronavirus will be essential to a team's success. The battle for a division title or even conference or Super Bowl championship may hinge on a team's ability to avoid an outbreak within the team.
Teams who are best at remaining virus-free will have a competitive advantage down the stretch.
Coronavirus does not play favorites and does not care if it infects the star quarterback or the backup center. Teams will have to be constantly on the alert and players will need to take extra care when venturing outside of the training facility.
The state of Washington has been one of the leading forces behind trying to stop the spread of the virus among its citizens. When looking at cases per 100,000 in metro areas with an NFL team, the Seattle area ranks 27th among the 32 NFL territories, which is another advantage the Seahawks have.
Bobby Wagner, the defensive captain, addressed this issue head on in a virtual conference last week.
"It’s players being on top of players, understanding that, you know, letting them know, again, it’s going to take a lot of discipline to get this done, and really being on top of everybody and really just keep pushing that message forward. ...At the end of the day, it’s going to be a lot of self-discipline."
This season will be unlike any other in NFL history and the players must remain aware of where they are and with whom they come in contact.
The Seahawks look to be a talented team that will be squarely in the mix for an NFC title and Super Bowl run, especially given the recent acquisition of All-Pro safety Jamal Adams. If the players want to gain as much of a competitive edge against their NFC foes as possible, they will need to continue to take the virus seriously and reduce risk as much as possible.
Whoever is hoisting the Lombardi trophy at the end of the year may not be the best overall team through the entire season but perhaps the healthiest and the one who has remained the most COVID-free. The Seahawks absolutely have the talent and awareness to be that team.