The coronavirus has changed life as we know it, and football is no different.
The agreement reached last Friday between the NFL and the NFL Players Association contains very specific guidelines for how all teams must conduct training camp in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following information has been compiled from multiple reports, including a memo the NFL sent to teams that was tweeted by Sports Illustrated MMQ reporter Albert Breer and a letter the NFLPA emailed to players that was tweeted by NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero.
Here is the timeline for 30 of the 32 teams—including the Bears—that are scheduled to open the regular season Sunday, Sept. 13 or Monday, Sept. 14:
Reporting and testing, Days 1-4 (July 28-31)
All veterans are permitted to report to training camp Tuesday. But no players will be allowed inside club facilities until they test negative for COVID-19 three times over a four-day period. The tests will be conducted on Days 1 (July 28), 2 (July 29) and 4 (July 31). All players must self-quarantine between tests. During Days 1-4, players must participate in virtual meetings, including ones that include COVID-19 training.
Teams can begin training camp with either 80 or 90 players. Clubs with 90 players must conduct camp in a split-squad format, with one group at the facility in the morning and the other in the afternoon. One group would consist of rookies, first-year players, quarterbacks and injured players; while the other would be comprised of the remaining veterans.
Clubs with an 80-man roster can have all of their players at the facility at the same time, including on the practice field throughout camp.
Teams with 90 players must reduce their rosters to 80 by Aug. 16. All clubs must reach the mandatory 53-man roster limit by Sept. 6.
Physicals and equipment, Days 5-6 (Aug. 1-2)
Players who test negative on Days 1-4 will be permitted to enter team facilities for the first time on Days 5-6 (Aug. 1-2) to take a physical exam and be fitted for equipment. The physicals and equipment fitting will be conducted over two days to avoid crowding and allow for social distancing.
On Days 5-6, virtual meetings may continue. Players will be assigned proximity tracking devices for contact tracing. In addition, daily COVID testing will begin and continue through the first two weeks of training camp. If the rate of positive tests is below five percent after the first two weeks, testing will continue every other day.
Acclimation period, Days 7-15 (Aug. 3-11)
An eight-day acclimation period will be held on Days 8-15 (Aug. 4-11), with players having a day off on Day 12 (Aug. 8). The guidelines will be the same as Phase 1 of the offseason program, with on-field activities limited to strength and conditioning and walkthrough sessions, and no conditioning tests permitted.
Only strength and conditioning coaches will be allowed on the field with players. Helmets are prohibited, and only quarterbacks, receivers, punters, kickers and long-snappers will be allowed to use footballs. In walkthrough sessions, however, all coaches will be permitted to be on the field and footballs may be used, though helmets are still not allowed.
Groups of no more than 15 players can be on the field for no more than 60 minutes per day and in the weight room for no more than 60 minutes per day. Walkthroughs cannot be longer than 60 minutes the first four days and 75 minutes the last four days of the acclimation period.
Gradual ramp-up period, Days 16-20 (Aug. 12-16)
A four-day on-field ramp-up period will be held on Days 16-20 (Aug. 12-16), with players having a day off on Day 19 (Aug. 15).
On the first two days, the guidelines will be similar to Phase 2 of the offseason program. All coaches will be allowed on the field, players can wear helmets and workouts may include individual player instruction and drills. On the final two days of the ramp-up period, teams will be allowed to conduct full-speed non-contact practices during which they may do 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, though live contact is prohibited.
Players can be on the field for no more than 3.5 hours per day, including walkthroughs. The time limits for the four days of practice will be 90, 105, 120 and 120 minutes, respectively.
Contact integration period, Days 21-41 (Aug. 17-Sept. 6)
Teams will be permitted to hold their first padded practice on Day 21 (Aug. 17) with a 90-minute time limit. Subsequent padded practices can be extended by 15 minutes through the fifth practice (from 90 to 105 to 120 to 135 to 150) after which the maximum is 150 minutes.
Padded practices may not be held on more than three consecutive calendar days and such three-day practice periods may not be held more than three times during training camp, with teams permitted a maximum of 14 padded practices during the 21-day contact integration period.
After mandatory days off Aug. 8 and 15, players must receive one day off every seven days through Sept. 6.