In most years, the middle of August marks the height of the NFL preseason. This year, padded practices won’t even begin until then.
The NFL Players Association has communicated to its players the schedule of preseason practices in a training camp without preseason games. Most players won’t put on full pads for the first time until August 17.
For 30 teams, camp starts on July 28; for the Chiefs and Texans (who play three days before the first Sunday of the season), it starts today.
The first four days consist of COVID-19 testing and virtual meetings. On August 1 and 2 (three days earlier for the Chiefs and Texans), physicals will be conducted and equipment will be distributed.
An eight-day “acclimatization period” begins on August 3, with 60 minutes of weight training and 60 minutes of conditioning, in groups of fewer than 15. There will be no conditioning tests or, with limited exceptions, on-field strength and conditioning. During this first phase, walk-through practices of up to 60 minutes are permitted on the first four days, with up to 75 minutes the final four days.
Next comes a five-day (with a day off in the middle) “gradual ramp-up period,” with up to 3.5 hours of on-field time. Formal practices start at 90 minutes in duration with 15-min daily increases, up to 120 minutes. For the first two days, players will have helmets and protective shirts. For the final two days, players will have non-padded practices with helmets, minimal padding (like “shell” shoulder pads), and no live contact.
Starting on August 17 for 30 teams (August 14 for the Chiefs and Texans), padded practices begin during the “contact integration period.” Through September 6, up to 14 padded practices are permitted.
As of Monday, September 7, the 30 teams that play on the opening Sunday of the season will commence their first week of regular-season practice. (On Friday, September 4, the Chiefs and Texans begin preparing for Thursday, September 10.)
Not mentioned in the memo is the obvious fact that there will be no preseason games, for any team. There also will be no joint practices. For all players, the first time that they step onto a field against an opponent will happen when the first regular-season game kicks off.