NFL Reportedly Cancels In-Person Minicamps; Extends Virtual Offseason

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 11, 2020

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 29: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to the media during a press conference prior to Super Bowl LIV at the Hilton Miami Downtown on January 29, 2020 in Miami, Florida. The San Francisco 49ers will face the Kansas City Chiefs in the 54th playing of the Super Bowl, Sunday February 2nd. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)
Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

The NFL reportedly informed teams Thursday they won't be allowed to hold in-person minicamps in June and extended the virtual offseason program through at least June 26. 

Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported further details about the league's plans ahead of training camp, which typically begins in mid-July:

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

Clubs have the option to extend their virtual offseason program for another two weeks, or discontinue after this week, which a bunch of teams are doing. The NFL and NFLPA continue to work together on remaining protocols to create a safe reopening for training camp.

The NFL released its 2020 schedule in May. Teams are still slated to play their traditional four preseason games and 16 regular-season contests followed by the playoffs.

Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement in coordination with the schedule saying the league was prepared to "make adjustments as necessary" because of the coronavirus pandemic:

"The release of the NFL schedule is something our fans eagerly anticipate every year, as they look forward with hope and optimism to the season ahead. In preparing to play the season as scheduled, we will continue to make our decisions based on the latest medical and public health advice, in compliance with government regulations, and with appropriate safety protocols to protect the health of our fans, players, club and league personnel, and our communities.

"We will be prepared to make adjustments as necessary, as we have during this off-season in safely and efficiently conducting key activities such as free agency, the virtual off-season program, and the 2020 NFL draft."

NFL team facilities were given clearance to reopen in May with strict guidelines, including no practices of any kind. The only players initially allowed in the building were those undergoing medical treatment.

For now, the preseason is scheduled to begin with the Hall of Fame Game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 6 followed by the regular season Sept. 10 when the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans.

The NFL and the Players Association are in discussions about reducing the exhibition slate from four games to two, per Pelissero. That would create more flexibility in terms of timing for the start of training camp while still beginning the regular season on time.

While the timetable remains unsettled, rookies like first overall pick Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals are forced to prepare for their first NFL season in a virtual format.

"I want to be the best player I can be," Burrow told reporters. "I'll have to get mental reps in from missing these minicamps and OTAs. I'll have to get into the playbook really hard and go through the process of calling plays in the huddle."

Some players have also taken part in informal workouts with teammates during the pandemic.

Bleacher Report's David Gardner interviews athletes and other sports figures for the podcast How to Survive Without Sports.