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Report: NFL Teams Could Trim Training Camp Rosters More Than 13%

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NFL teams are reportedly considering bringing fewer players than normal to training camp this year in an effort to combat COVID-19, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Instead of bringing the regular 90 players, Schefter’s sources say teams could bring just 80, or even 75 players to camp this August.

While it appears teams have the right idea in mind by trying to minimize the risk of COVID-19, shrinking training camp rosters will limit opportunities for fringe players attempting to find a landing spot.

Still, smaller rosters will allow for proposed social distancing in training camp in compliance with the league’s protocols announced last month. There are also plans to expand practice squad rosters to handle the likely inactives that will arise from positive tests, which will return roster slots to those barred from camp.

In another move to combat the coronavirus, several reports indicate the league is slashing the 2020 preseason in half. Each team will play their Week 2 and 3 exhibition games, but Weeks and 4 will be canceled. The Hall of Fame game between the Steelers and Cowboys has already been called off.

These last two moves by the league are the first two instances of the NFL bending to the virus. The league had previously held the NFL Draft and free agency on time unimpeded, and is currently still planning on having fans in attendance this season, although that seems like a long-shot currently.

NFL

Mic Drop: Antonio Brown Suspended, Steelers Coverage, Keys to Season

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Mike Asti discussed a gauntlet of topics, including the announcement of Antonio Brown’s suspension, the keys to the upcoming season and who’s facing the most pressure. Asti also pulled back the curtain and explained the perimeters to covering the Steelers in the midst of a global pandemic like COVID-19.

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Giants LT Nate Solder Opts Out of 2020 Season

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New York Giants left tackle Nate Solder has opted out of the 2020 season, he announced Wednesday on Twitter.

Solder cited the health of his family as his main reasoning to sit out this year. His son Hudson has been battling cancer for the last four years, and he is a cancer survivor himself. He and his wife Lexi also have a newborn, their son Emerson who was born this spring.

“With fear and trembling, we struggle to keep our priorities in order and, for us, our children’s health and the health of our neighbors comes before football,” Solder said in a statement.

Solder is one of the highest-profile players yet to opt out this season. Other notables include New England Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower and Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Marquise Goodwin. Both players also have newborns at home and referenced preexisting conditions in their families.

While Solder’s absence will be a loss for the Giants, it will be the Steelers’ gain. Pittsburgh opens up the 2020 season on the road against the Giants at MetLife Stadium.

Without Solder, the Giants may be starting two rookies at tackle when the teams meet on Sept. 14 in first-rounder Andrew Thomas and third-rounder Matt Peart. That is far from an ideal scenario when T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree are coming off the edge, a duo that combined for 26 sacks a year ago.

Solder is the fourth-highest paid left tackle in the league, according to Spotrac. He was set to make $9.9 million in base salary this year, and count $19.5 million against the Giants’ salary cap.

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Former Steeler Dr. Myron Rolle Says it is Unsafe for NFL Season to Start

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Former Pittsburgh Steelers safety and current neurosurgeon Dr. Myron Rolle says it is unsafe for the NFL season start, and that more time is needed before professional football can return in full.

Joining CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night, Rolle expressed his concerns as players around the league arrive at team facilities for training camps amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He thinks the best option is to postpone, or even cancel the season all together.

“I do not think it’s safe to return right now,” Rolle told CNN. “I think the NFL should delay the sport or cancel it this year to allow the wonderful women and men on the front lines to really get ahead of this pandemic and make it safe for everyone to come back to the sport.”

Rolle says the safest path for football to return requires a significant reduction in the numbers of cases across the country. While some states have found a way to slow the virus, that is not the case elsewhere, with hotspots in Arizona, Florida and Texas still raging. Rolle added that football is not a sport that necessarily lends itself to social distancing.

“When you have states that are hot beds and players coming from these places, I think it’s very difficult to sort of say, ‘I want to social distance,’ in a sport that’s inherently close,” Rolle explained, citing the “need to be cohesive in the locker room and in the huddle and walk-throughs close together.”

“It’s actually encouraged to be physical. It’s encouraged to have hand fighting at the line of scrimmage to tackle a player,” Rolle continued. “And as a football player, if you’re thinking about trying to keep yourself safe in the midst of a game that inches matter, one step too slow, one step too late, that’s the touchdown. That’s a win versus a loss.”

Rolle also called out the NFL directly, saying that if they really are the American institution and community leader they claim to be, they should be setting an example instead of trying to be the exception. He wants the league to “be a leader at the forefront and put the players’ safety and their families’ safety as a premium.”

“If the NFL wants to be part of the community, I think it needs to be responsible and think about what is actually happening in the community right now,” Rolle said. “A pandemic happening and infection rates going up and hospitalizations occurring, PPE at high demand.”

Drafted in the sixth round out of Florida State back in 2010, Rolle spent time with the Tennessee Titans and Steelers before leaving the NFL to attend medical school in 2013. He is currently a third-year neurosurgeon resident at Massachusetts General Hospital.

While the coronavirus situation across the U.S. does not seem to be showing much improvement, the NFL is moving forward as planned. Players arrived at training camp this week, and the league still intends to kick off the 2020 season on Sept. 10 between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans.

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