By Gregg Bell | McClatchy News Service
RENTON — Jamal Adams is in town, ready to report.
Top rookie draft choices Jordyn Brooks and Darrell Taylor are agreeing to their contracts.
But nasal cotton swabs, not cleats, are what Russell Wilson and the rest of the players are using to begin training camp.
That is, those who aren’t already bailing on this risky season.
The Seahawks were beginning to report to newly re-opened and COVID-19 retrofitted team headquarters in Renton on Tuesday — not for football, but for coronavirus testing. Same for teams across the league, beginning training camps like none other in NFL history.
As they did, players around the league were opting out of the 2020 season.
The Seahawks had one player as of Tuesday morning choose to opt out: offensive lineman Chance Warmack. A league source said Warmack, 28, has “lost a family member to COVID, and some close family friends have been hospitalized.”
The New England Patriots already had six players, three of them veteran starters, opt out by Tuesday morning. That included star linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who became a father for the first time two weeks ago. His mother has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Philadelphia Eagles receiver Marquise Goodwin had informed his team he plans to opt-out of the season. Goodwin has a 5-month-old daughter. His wife previously had three miscarriages.
Yet more reminders professional athletes are people, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters, too.
Seahawks veteran Bruce Irvin sure noticed all the players saying no thanks.
Instead of practices and playbooks, Irvin, his fellow Seahawks players, coaches and staff members were getting COVID-19 tests just outside the team facility as they reported for camp Tuesday. Then they were all sent back to their homes or hotel.
Today will be the same thing: another COVID-19 test, another boomerang trip back home.
Coaches will be doing what they have since May: conducting online Zoom calls for remote playbook installation and actual football work, from afar. Players are also required to attend remote meetings for COVID-19 training and education and to complete team administrative tasks during this time.
The NFL published the by-protocol schedule for the rest of camp’s opening week: no tests as players and coaches stay home again Thursday. Friday, they will get a third test for COVID-19.
Only those who pass all three tests in the first four days will be allowed into the team facility for the first time. The players haven’t been in there since January; the coronavirus pandemic shut down NFL team headquarters in March.
‘Kinexon proximity tracking devices’
Saturday and Sunday, the fifth and sixth days of camp, players who have passed their COVID-19 tests can enter the team facility. Inside, clubs will issue them “Kinexon proximity tracking devices.” Those are to give each team’s infection control officer, often the head athletic trainer, a way to track those people each player comes in contact with each day.
The team will use that information in the event the player wearing the device tests positive for the coronavirus, to isolate those he contacted before his positive test.
Players will also be getting their annual camp physical exams these days.
They will begin getting daily testing from Saturday through the first two weeks of camp, Aug. 11. On that day, if the league determines it has had a positive test rate of less than 5 percent, testing will go to every other day. If the positive rate is still above 5 percent by Aug. 11, the league will continue to require daily testing until that rate drops below that threshold.
The league will allow players to get fitted for football equipment on Saturday and Sunday while continuing “virtual football related meetings.” The league emphasizes “these activities must be conducted in a manner to minimize the risk of exposure to the virus and may not interfere with physical examinations.”
Players who have passed all five of their COVID-19 tests plus their physicals through Sunday can then begin an eight-day period for strength and conditioning training. The league will allow walkthrough practices, some light work on an actual football field, during that period beginning next week.
Aug. 12 is the first day teams can have non-padded practices. Padded practices can begin no earlier than Aug. 17.
Commissioner Roger Goodell stated the obvious earlier this week, that pulling off this football season is going to be a mammoth challenge.
“In the months since the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down, we have navigated the time carefully, thoughtfully and in partnership with the NFL Players Association with a shared goal of playing a healthy and complete 2020 season,” Goodell wrote. “This process has not been easy — COVID-19 will continue to present a major challenge to nearly every area of American life. Football is no exception.”