The world remains besieged by the COVID-19 pandemic and that will not change until a cure is available in mass quantities.

The NFL is planning to start on time and is aware of this reality.

In order to cope with the fact that players may get sick or may get injured, the NFL and NFLPA have agreed to a few changes.

Three things we had already seen done were the cancellation of preseason games, the addition of the COVID list (where Lane Johnson, Jordan Mailata and Nate Gerry have already found themselves) and the ability for players to opt out of the season.

Following their meeting earlier this week, the NFL has determined a few more rules that will be in effect for 2020.

First, they have set an opt out deadline for Thursday, August 6. Players must choose whether or not to opt out before that time and the will not be allowed to opt back in as players in other sports have been doing.

Secondly, teams will be allowed to carry 16 practice squad members this season. That number was set to increase from 10 to 12 under the new CBA, but that number will increase even further as teams expect they will need more players ready in their defense in the event an outbreak occurs and they lose multiple players.

That practice squad change comes with the addition of four "protected" spots on the practice squad that can be chosen the week before each game. These spots will be used for players that the team really wants to keep around as these four players will not be allowed to sign with another team.

The addition of these spots makes it possible for a team to be better prepared in the event players are lost without having to cut someone else and move them onto the 53-man roster.

As for injuries, the NFL may be expecting a bit more of them without the preseason games to help get players in game shape.

Among the updates that were made was the increase of players who could return from IR per season from two in 2019 to unlimited in 2020. The amount of time that must be spent on the list also decreases from eight games to three games with a 21-day practice window that a player must be activated from our place out for the rest of the season. This means that more "minor" injuries may result in IR placements like the ones that have affected players like Alshon Jeffery and Tim Jernigan the past couple of seasons.

For adding players to the roster, teams will now be able to add any free agent or promote a practice squad member if someone is placed on the COVID list before 4 p.m. the Saturday before a Sunday game, but they will also be able to promote a practice squad player up to 90 minutes before kickoff if the transaction happens after that deadline - something teams have not been able to do before.

Additionally, players are subject to a $50,000 fine for missing their COVID testing like Kyle O'Quinn did for the Sixers earlier this week.

These rules may carry over into 2021 "if necessary". It wouldn't be a surprise to see some of the rules stick should they benefit the teams and players even if they aren't deemed necessary next season, though.

Paul Bowman is an Eagles contributor for 97.3 ESPN and Eagles editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @PhillyBallPaul.

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