Bills training camp is officially underway. But it’s unlike anything that pro football has ever experienced.
The Bills and the entire NFL are entering uncharted territory. In a vastly different world than the one that existed just a few short months ago.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire world is in a state of flux, and the picture above illustrates the changes that all NFL teams are undergoing.
Just days into training camp. Like most NFL teams, Buffalo is already feeling the effects of the new landscape in the NFL.
NEW TRAINING CAMP PROTOCOLS
As veterans reported to Bills training camp this past Tuesday, it wasn’t like anything that they have shown up for in the past. The first six days of camp consist of these new requirements.
Days one through four of camp are reserved for Covid-19 testing.
Players are required to attend virtual pandemic training and education, administrative activities, and football-related meetings.
Days 5 & 6: Daily COVID-19 testing continues through the first two weeks of camp. Players who test negative during the first wave of tests may enter the club facility for physical exams and equipment fittings.
Players are also instructed on the use of and assigned Kinexon proximity tracking devices. During this entire period, virtual football meetings take place.
The acclimation/conditioning period begins on August 3rd and lasts until August 11th. Buffalo can start on-field activities from the 12th to the 16th. Padded practices don’t begin until August 17th. A little less than a month before the regular season presumably begins in an empty New Era Field against the Jets.
5 PLAYERS TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID-19
Since Bills training camp started on Tuesday, five of their players have tested positive for COVID-19. The number could grow in the coming days of testing.
As a precautionary move, the Bills have sent their rookies home following the fifth positive test. Not all positive tests are rookies. The five cases are a total number, with two revealed on Thursday.
The Bills are making adjustments to life in the COVID-19 world. The Bills medical staff sending players home is a preventative measure to isolate cases immediately.
Players on the Bills transaction wire listed on the Reserve/COVID list are;
Any player placed on the Reserve/COVID list can return to a team facility and practice once they have passed the appropriate tests. There is no set time under guidelines for how long a player can remain on the list.
DEFENSIVE STAR OPTS OUT
Unhereladed Defensive Tackle Star Lotulelei has opted out of the 2020 NFL season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The teams’ best interior run defender, Lotulelei is the first prominent player on the Bills to opt-out of playing this season. NFL veterans have until this Monday to make their final decision on opting out. As of press time, 30 NFL veterans have opted out of playing this year.
For Buffalo, like most NFL teams. Their depth will be tested before and during the season. The loss of Star Lotulelei will force the likes of Vernon Butler and Harrison Phillips to step up in his place.
With uncertainty surrounding the salary cap in the 2021 season. It’s fair to wonder if Star Lotulelei has played his final snap for the Buffalo Bills.
WINNING THE AFC EAST
The Bills are already feeling the effects of the new circumstances that all NFL teams are encountering, but no team has been hit harder thus far than Buffalo’s most significant threat to winning the AFC East, the New England Patriots.
It’s hard not to feel dirty typing this especially considering the current climate, but several key players for the Patriots have opted out of the coming season. The list includes LB Donta’ Hightower, OT Marcus Cannon, S Patrick Chung, RB Brandon Bolden, among others.
The signing of Cam Newton helps even the scales of power in the AFC East a bit but with these recent losses. It’s hard not to see them benefiting the Patriots rivals, particularly the Bills.
If anything, the pressure is really on Buffalo to weather the storms headed their way in these crazy times and to emerge as winners of a season that we all hope makes it to the finish line in one piece.
Also, be sure to check out the Overtime Heroics Forums page to join in on the discussion!