There are not a lot of concrete dates or events on the NFL calendar right now, not with the league still hammering out their policies and protocols around the upcoming season. As we’ve maybe drilled into your heads by now, the COVID-19 virus continues to be a threat to the NFL calendar, especially the parts where a bunch of athletes start tackling and jawing at one another in close proximity.
So here’s the one concrete date we do have, besides the regular season schedule: July 28. Per Ian Rapoport at NFL Network, that’s the date teams are expecting to report to training camp.
While the NFL calendar remains in flux, multiple clubs are proceeding as if players won’t report to camp early — which means veterans would arrive July 28. Any ramp-up period would occur thereafter, likely in concert with a shortened preseason as @TomPelissero has reported.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 24, 2020
There are still uncertainties here, including whether multiple clubs will end up meaning every team or not, which could end up creating some wrinkles before all is said and done. I’d expect pretty much every time to line up on that date, however, and that means the league has just over a month to work with the NFLPA and get a plan in place that might actually get them through the months ahead.
With a shorter preseason potentially on the table, the “ramping up” Rapoport refers to isn’t going to mean more live game action, which could have an impact on rookies getting their feet wet in the NFL for the first time. That in turn could mean sloppier football early in the season, especially for teams heavily reliant on rookies (like the Falcons with A.J. Terrell, for example), but I’ll take some messy football over the specter of having none at all, if that winds up being an option.
The only truly important thing about this date is that it’s only about a month away, and that if it moves back at all it likely puts the regular season start time in jeopardy. Let’s circle July 28 on the calendar and keep a falcon-y eye on it, in the hopes that we’ll be seeing Flowery Branch hosting some honest-to-goodness training camp battles starting on that date.