NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Despite play not beginning until September, the NFL is not immune to the changes happening around the sports world in reaction to COVID-19 concerns.
On Monday, the league announced new changes to the off-season including closing team facilities for at least two weeks and grounding travel for free agents and medical testing.
Also, and more importantly, the league is suspending off-season activities indefinitely, meaning optional training activities or “OTA’s” will be pushed back.
“It cuts into spring workouts and OTAs, obviously that’s going to change things up a little bit. We’re not able to get together and work as a group, work as a team. That hurts for sure, but we’ll see what happens. I’d like to get the guys together and get some work in, regardless obviously have to be smart about it and just kind of follow along with the recommendations of officials and everything like that as far as when it’s safe to fly and get together,” said Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Tannehill also described what this time in the season would generally look like from a quarterback’s standpoint.
“It makes things difficult as far as a planning perspective. Usually this time of year I like to get together with the receivers and start getting some work in, but guys getting on planes right now is not a good situation. We’ll see, like I said, what happens here in the next weeks and months to come. But hopefully as a nation we can kind of get this thing turned around, flatten the curve sort to speak, and start moving forward,” he said.
This hits close to home for newly-signed offensive tackle Dennis Kelly. His oldest daughter, Eden, has serious food allergies and can only eat specific food and drink particular brands and with supplies dwindling at grocery stores across the world, he worries his daughter may not get the things she needs.
“The biggest challenge with that is the brands of food that she can eat and drink, with all these people that are in a sense panic shopping, and getting all these supplies – you hear the jokes about the toilet paper going out. We have one brand of milk that she drinks because we know it’s safe, that it doesn’t have cross-contamination, eggs, eggnog, or any type of nut or anything like that. If that is kind of taken out, that kind of leaves us in a predicament in that regard. That’s just kind of where we’re at right now. Scary situation for us, personally, with her,” said Kelly.
He also said he and his family have been self-quarantined for the past month as he and his wife just had their second daughter in February. Her name is Emilia or “Emmy.”
As for the impact the new regulations have had on him and the rest of the offensive line, he said the group may not hurt as much because no one new is joining the starting line. Former starting right tackle Jack Conklin agreed to terms with the Browns during the Free Agency period and Kelly is expected to step in and take his role. So, while chemistry is important on the five-man front and that is built in the off-season, there is no newness with this group, so the changes won’t have as big of an impact.
” With the way that we were running that second half of the season last year and into the playoffs, we were running like a pretty well-oiled machine. To be able to keep a lot of that chemistry is going to be really, really vital. You look at – using the Coronavirus, there might not be as much time in the off-season to build up that chemistry. So, it’s really, really good for Tennessee that we have a lot of guys coming back.”