One of the more annoying things from my perspective during an offseason is how the team pictures rarely change in the editor when creating an article. There are moments when it does — the NFL draft, rookie minicamps, team or player events — and you can see a little bit of what’s going on, but clearly that has not been the case with 2020.
No in-person NFL draft.
Such has been this year and such will be 2020 training camp, truly an event that won’t be like any other in NFL history. Especially for the two Los Angeles teams, who in addition to getting ready for the season during a pandemic must also pander and cater to the film crew for HBO’s Hard Knocks.
On the bright side, we’ll get an unprecedented view into how the sports world is responding to coronavirus. But yet another thing overloading the dim side is the fact that this training camp and season of Hard Knocks won’t feature any preseason games, won’t feature very much in the way of group meetings or off-campus hangs, and will rarely get a glimpse of padded practices.
Rookies began reporting last week and veterans officially report on Tuesday. Rams quarterback Jared Goff posted an image of himself getting the COVID-19 test on Monday with an HBO cameraman and boom mic pointed right at his face, for example.
“This season on Hard Knocks: Will Jared Goff pass his COVID test? Tune in to the premiere this August!” pic.twitter.com/xOe2UYpqXT— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) July 27, 2020
Though the Rams entire 80-man roster could be checked in by Wednesday, there won’t be any full practices for quite awhile.
The rest of July will feature testing and virtual meetings. Everything from Aug. 1-16 is being described as “physicals;” “equipment distribution;” “acclimation period;” and “gradual ramp-up period.” There will be plenty of talking over Zoom, staying as socially distant as possible, and reading the playbook until Aug. 17 — the first day that teams can actually practice.
This would give teams roughly three weeks of pads before the start of the regular season.
NFL.com’s Steve Wyche had a closer look inside LA Rams training camp and how it may look.
To describe what the Rams have done to meet and surpass NFL and NFLPA requirements as a massive undertaking would be selling their preparation well short. The real work, though, hasn’t really begun.
“It’s about education,” said Reggie Scott, Rams vice president of Sports Medicine and Performance. “It’s not just education by coaches, the athletic trainers and the doctors here. It’s also peer-to-peer education. It’s self-policing a little bit in terms of making sure we’re going to hold each other accountable and make sure that this is just not about your personal health, but it’s about the health of the guy next to you.”
The Rams’ facility is a football-only setup, which is a significant edge over most NFL teams, whose football and business operations tend to be under one roof. The Rams’ business offices are in a complex several miles away in Agoura Hills. There are fewer people — and a smaller area of space — to address.
Reggie Scott noted that he expects 190 tests during the first wave and that he’s not heard of any Rams player opting out or considering an opt out for this season.
Hard Knocks debuts on Aug. 11, six days before the first practice with pads. New photos of Rams (above: Aaron Donald in 2019) are hopefully coming even sooner.