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Ravens’ John Harbaugh says NFL’s COVID-19 rules ‘humanly impossible’

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June 12 (UPI) — Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh says the NFL’s new coronavirus pandemic safety guidelines for facilities are “humanly impossible” to follow.

Harbaugh made the comments during a radio interview Thursday on Baltimore’s 105.7 The Fan.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued the protocols Sunday in a memo sent to teams. The rules will be enforced when all players are allowed to return to team facilities, which have been closed to most players and coaches since March.

“I’ve seen all the memos on that, and to be quite honest with you, it’s impossible what they’re asking us to do. Humanly impossible,” Harbaugh said. “So, we’re going to do everything we can do. We’re going to space, we’re going to have masks.

“But, you know, it’s a communication sport. We have to be able to communicate with each other in person. We have to practice.”

NFL facilities were permitted to reopen to players for treatments on May 19. Teams will be required to submit a copy of infectious disease plans as part of the new guidelines.

Players and team staff must wear masks at all times while at facilities, unless they can’t wear a mask due to athletic activity. Teams must also provide an adequate supply of surgical and cloth masks for players and staff and provide goggles, full face shields, gowns and gloves for medical staffers.

Those at the facilities must replace surgical masks and wash cloth masks daily and players must rotate team-provided cloth masks every three days.

Access will also be restricted throughout the facilities. Players and staff must undergo daily screening and testing before entrance. Teams are required to create protocols for players to maintain 6 feet of distance when at facilities, which includes locker rooms.

“I’m pretty sure the huddle is not going to be 6-feet spaced,” Harbaugh said. “Are guys going to shower one at a time all day? Are guys going to lift weights one at a time all day?

“These are things the league and the [players’ association] needs to get a handle on and needs to get agreed with some common sense so we can operate in a 13-hour day in training camp that they’re giving us and get our work done.

“That’s the one thing, you can tell by my voice, I’m a little frustrated with what I’m hearing there. And I think they need to get that pinned down a little better.”

The NFL has canceled in-person minicamps but training camps are scheduled to start in July. Teams will meet virtually until at least June 26.



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Atlanta Falcons to allow limited number of fans at games starting Oct. 11

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Sept. 22 (UPI) — The Atlanta Falcons will allow a limited number of fans to attend games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium beginning Oct. 11 against the Carolina Panthers, the team announced Tuesday.

The team said in August that no fans would be allowed at the stadium through the month of September due to the coronavirus pandemic. The latest decision to welcome fans back was based on the decline in COVID-19 cases in Georgia.

MLS club Atlanta United, who shares Mercedes-Benz Stadium with the Falcons, also will compete in front of a small number of fans. All fans will be required to wear masks.

“We are thrilled to invite fans of both the Falcons and Atlanta United back to Mercedes-Benz Stadium,” Steve Cannon, CEO of AMB Sports and Entertainment, said in a statement Tuesday. “Having fans watch from alternative locations was a difficult, but important, decision.

“It’s been challenging for both teams to play without fans, but their well-being as well as the safety of our associates and fans was paramount.”

The Falcons said they will host about 500 friends, family and associates for their Week 3 home game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday to test stadium operations and protocols.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium initially planned to host between 10,000 and 20,000 fans at the 71,000-seat stadium until the coronavirus disrupted those plans. Officials haven’t determined how many fans will be allowed to attend games come Oct. 11.

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The Los Angeles Rams’ Jared Goff celebrates after a first down in the final minutes of the fourth quarter in Philadelphia on Sunday. The Rams defeated the Eagles 37-19. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo



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Ex-Falcons RB Devonta Freeman signing 1-year deal with Giants

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Sept. 22 (UPI) — The New York Giants are signing former Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman to a short-term contract after losing Saquon Barkley to a season-ending knee injury.

League sources told ESPN and NFL Media on Tuesday that Freeman agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $3 million with the Giants. According to ESPN, the two-time Pro Bowl tailback is expected to officially sign the pact Wednesday morning and could play as soon as Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

“Devonta turned down more money from other teams because he likes the opportunity with the Giants best,” Freeman’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN.

Barkley tore the ACL in his right knee during Sunday’s 17-13 loss to the Chicago Bears. In his absence, veteran running back Dion Lewis saw a larger workload in the game.

Freeman, 28, will become the top candidate to replace Barkley on early downs, with Lewis serving as a pass-catching back. The Giants also have Wayne Gallman on the active roster, and veteran Rod Smith is on the practice squad.

The Falcons selected Freeman in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Florida State. He spent his first six seasons with the Falcons before the team let him walk in free agency this past off-season in favor of All-Pro tailback Todd Gurley.

In 77 career games with the Falcons, Freeman recorded 3,977 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns on 950 carries. He added 257 receptions for 2,015 yards and 11 receiving scores on 323 targets.

Earlier Tuesday, the Giants placed Barkley on injured reserve. Cornerback Ryan Lewis was added to the active roster in his place.

This week in the National Football League

The Los Angeles Rams’ Jared Goff celebrates after a first down in the final minutes of the fourth quarter in Philadelphia on Sunday. The Rams defeated the Eagles 37-19. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo



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Washington owner Dan Snyder in quarantine after friend tests positive for COVID-19

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Washington Football Team running back J.D. McKissic (L) celebrates with Logan Thomas after defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 27-17, in Landover, Md., on Sunday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo



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