The NFL sent updated COVID-19 protocols to its 32 teams Friday. NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport tweeted a copy of the guidelines:
The letter focused on two major areas, those being the amount of players permitted to travel to and attend games, and who is or isn't allowed in team facilities during the two days after games are played.
First, the NFL noted that the 62-player limit for traveling to and attending games has been lifted. Teams no longer have to submit a list of 62 players to the NFL before games, but players who attend and don't play have to follow a number of protocols.
With regard to the team facilities, no in-person meetings are allowed to take place for two days following games. That means teams cannot convene Monday and Tuesday after a Sunday game unless they do so virtually.
Coaches are allowed to work individually at the team facility in their own office on those days and players can come in for treatment or recovery, but meetings involving more than one person cannot occur in-person.
The NFL's letter came after a challenging Week 12 that saw COVID-19 cases impact multiple games.
Most notably, the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens scheduled for Thanksgiving night was moved to Sunday afternoon, then Tuesday night and finally to Wednesday afternoon because of positive tests and contact tracing on both teams.
The game was ultimately played Wednesday and the Steelers won 19-14, but the Ravens were without several key players, including quarterback Lamar Jackson, running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins, tight end Mark Andrews and linebacker Matthew Judon.
In Sunday's tilt between the Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints, all four of Denver's quarterbacks were deemed unable to play because of contact tracing. The game went on as scheduled, and the Broncos had to utilize practice-squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton at quarterback. Hinton played some quarterback in college at Wake Forest, but he was overmatched and completed just one of nine passing attempts in a 31-3 loss.
COVID-19 will likely continue to be an issue for the remainder of the season since the NFL isn't using a bubble concept, but by keeping teams out of their facilities as much as possible, the hope is to reduce the risk of transmission if someone does contract the virus.