Extra Points: Eagles Need to Expand Their Bubble
Testing positive for Covid-19 didn't affect Doug Pederson's approach to training camp.
The Eagles coach is now running the team while quarantining at his Moorestown home as part of a contingency plan he developed over the summer.
"I thought a lot about contingencies," Pederson said during a teleconference Monday with the media. "This doesn't just happen. I thought about this quite a bit if something like this were to come up, not only with me, but with any of my staff or my players."
Assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley is running the day-to-day operations from the NovaCare Complex, but Pederson is still in charge.
He's been conducting virtual meetings with the team over the last few days as part of Phase 2 of training camp. Teams don't really start practicing until Aug. 12 and contact practices won't begin until Aug. 17 as part of the agreement reached between the NFL and the Player's Association.
"One of the things I learned during the offseason is that I can still run the team virtually," Pederson said. "I just finished up a bunch of (virual) player meetings, group meetings (Monday morning). Duce and talk in the mornings. I offer my thoughts on things and he carries the message forward."
Pederson became the fourth member of the Eagles organization to test positive for the coronavirus in the last week, joining linebacker Nate Gerry and tackles Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata.
Pederson declined to say where he contracted the virus, but seemed to hint that he caught it outside the NovaCare Complex, which he refers to as the Eagles' version of a "Bubble."
"I know this virus has affected people differently," he said. "I'm very respectful and mindful of that. I feel great. My energy level is high and I really have no symptoms whatsoever. But I feel very fortunate."
While the Eagles have established strict protocols and regulations within the NovaCare Complex to try and guard against a widespread outbreak, the threat of contracting the virus away from the team facilities remains a concern.
One option would be to try to create a version of the "Bubble" situation that has worked so well for the NBA. For example, the New Orleans Saints have rented out several floors of a hotel that would house players and other staff members for the duration of training camp.
As Pederson pointed out, the Eagles already have a similar situation. Rookies and other younger players are staying at a Marriott Courtyard at the Naval Base during training camp. However, veterans have the option of living at the hotel or going home each night.
Most veterans prefer to stay in their homes.
"They have very little free time," Pederson said. "They have a 12-hour workday and there is a curfew (at the hotel) at 11 p.m. Once they leave the (NovaCare Complex), they're on their own.
"I'm very comfortable and confident in the protocols we have in place at NovaCare. I still think it's a very safe environment. We need to stress the importance of following the protocols outside the building, like washing your hands, wearing a mask and maintaining social distance."
It might be time to expand that bubble beyond the NovaCare Complex. The best way to prevent a possible outbreak would be to require all players to stay at the team hotel. Players, especially those with families, wouldn't be happy, but that's a small price to pay for one's health and that of the rest of the team.
Pederson expressed confidence that the NFL will open on schedule in September and play an entire season.
But that won't be possible if the bubbles start to pop.
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