INDIANAPOLIS — The discussions have been had, the agreements are in place: now it's time for some football.
Today, the Indianapolis Colts' veterans will be reporting to the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center to officially kick off 2020 training camp — although, like the offseason program that preceded it, this camp will be unlike any other.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way every team will approach training camp and the season. After weeks of discussions between the league and the NFLPA, both sides recently came to an agreement not only about how to get the 2020 season started on time, but how to best approach getting prepared for the year with the health and safety of the players, coaches and staff top of mind.
One major change announced recently is the elimination of the entire preseason slate of games. So without any official on-field work during the offseason program, on top of zero preseason opportunities, how, exactly, will the Colts be spending their time over the next few weeks to prepare for their 2020 opener on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars — a contest just 47 days away from now?
Here's a general idea of what to expect over the next few weeks, via an NFLPA memo sent to players and reported by the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero:
- Colts rookies, players receiving treatment for injuries and quarterbacks began reporting to the team's facility last week. The first four days consisted of COVID testing on Days 1, 2, and 4, as well as virtual meetings. Once players clear three days of COVID testing, they can begin taking physicals and conducting workouts.
- Today is the official training camp report day for all other Colts veterans. Like the group last week, Days 1, 2 and 4 for the veterans will consist of COVID testing before they can be cleared for physicals and workouts.
- Colts general manager Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich are scheduled to talk to the media. Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni are scheduled to talk to reporters on Friday.
- Those veterans who have cleared all three COVID tests can now get their physicals and conduct workouts at the team facility.
- This eight-day span is being utilized as an acclimation period back into football activities. This time is mostly spent doing work with the strength and conditioning staff; groups of no more than 15 at a time will spend 60 minutes a day in the weight room, and 60 minutes a day doing on-field conditioning.
- Much like Phase 1 of the offseason workout program, some players — quarterbacks, wide receivers, kickers, punters and long snappers — are allowed to use footballs in some of their on-field conditioning work, although no team activities are allowed.
- Walkthroughs are also permitted to begin; they can be up to 60 minutes the first four days and up to 75 minutes on each of the final four days of this period.
- This will be a gradual ramp-up period for the players. On Aug. 12-13, teams can start putting Phase 2 rules into play, which means helmets and shells are permitted. Non-padded practices with no contact are allowed to commence on Aug. 14 and 16.
- All NFL offseason rosters must be reduced from 90 to 80 players by Aug. 16, according to a league memo sent to teams last week.
Aug. 17-Sept. 6
- Padded practices can begin starting Aug. 17 and running through the end of camp on Sept. 6. The teams can conduct no more than 14 padded practices during this period.
- Teams must reduce their 80-man offseason rosters to their 53-man regular season versions by 4 p.m. ET Sept. 5. The claiming period for players placed on waivers at this point will end at noon ET the following day; an hour later, teams may start building their practice squads.
- Colts officially begin preparations for their Week 1 matchup against the Jaguars.