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NFL bringing more staff back to HQ with saliva virus tests

Wed Aug 5 5:46pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer

The NFL is preparing to return most of its employees to team headquarters in Midtown Manhattan later this month and staffers going back to the office will have to take saliva COVID-19 tests every two weeks.

No more than half of the 780-member staff will be allowed to work on any given day at 345 Park Avenue, said Dasha Smith, the NFL's Chief People Officer.

In a staff memo obtained by The Associated Press, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday wrote, ''With our players and clubs safely back in the workplace, we too must continue to advance our return to the workplace. This will ensure we are collectively in the best position to execute our season.''

The Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs are scheduled to kick off the season Sept. 10.

That will mark the first game since KC's Super Bowl win over the 49ers in February because all preseason games this month were scuttled following an offseason conducted remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Smith said the league also is providing a transportation subsidy for employees so they can drive themselves or use a ride-sharing service ''if they feel uncomfortable coming to work on public transportation.''

Approximately 150 staff members returned to work for at least one day a week when the NFL reopened its headquarters on June 22 following a three-month lock-down.

Smith said she expected the Phase 2 reopening to commence on Aug. 17 or Aug. 25 but stressed that returning to the office isn't a requirement for any employee.

She said staffers with underlying health concerns or family members with a comorbidity will be allowed to continue working from home. So will anyone with child-care challenges, she said.

''We're doing a person-by-person consultation just to ensure that we are meeting the needs of each of our employees,'' Smith said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will decide this week on whether to allow schools to open next month. If employees have to keep their kids home for remote learning ''we will be extremely flexible with those employees,'' Smith said.

''We are really approaching this in a compassionate and understanding way,'' Smith said, ''really making sure that we are taking into account all of the personal situations that our employees are experiencing and dealing with.''

The NFL's satellite offices in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, and Culver City, California, were reopened earlier this summer for production staffers who were subject to the same protocols put in place in Manhattan such as temperature checks, social distancing and mask requirements in common areas.

The COVID-19 saliva tests, which are also required of any NFL employee who returns from a business flight, produce results within 72 hours.

A positive test would trigger a quarantine order and contract tracing procedures. Any employee who registers a reading of 101.4 degrees or higher also will be prohibited from entering team headquarters.

Player Notes
Ronald Jones II Aug 5 3:10pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II was called "the main guy" in the running back room by his coach Bruce Arians. Arians said he is confident in Jones II and that the other guys are fighting for roles. The other guys include third-round draft pick Ke'Shawn Vaughn, who will lose valuable practice time after he hit the COVID-19 list, and veteran running back LeSean McCoy, who won't challenge for a lead back role at this point in his career. Jones II looks the part after an offseason spent bulking up and catching hundreds of passes to address a weakness in his game. The 23-year-old has RB2 upside in the 7th round but it's likely that Vaughn and McCoy cut into his ceiling in 2020, despite what Arians said.

From RotoBaller

Travis Benjamin Aug 5 9:23am ET

San Francisco 49ers WR Travis Benjamin has opted out of the 2020 season.

From TheHuddle

Maxx Williams Aug 4 6:33pm ET

Arizona Cardinals TE Maxx Williams (undisclosed) passed his physical Tuesday, Aug. 4, and was taken off the Physically Unable to Perform list.

From TheHuddle

D.J. Hayden Aug 4 6:33pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars DB D.J. Hayden (knee) passed his physical and was removed from the Physically Unable to Perform list Tuesday, Aug. 4.

From TheHuddle

Ukeme Eligwe Aug 4 6:23pm ET

Updating a previous story, Las Vegas Raiders LB Ukeme Eligwe was placed on the Reserve/Opt-Out list Tuesday, Aug. 4.

From TheHuddle

Allen Hurns Aug 4 6:23pm ET

Updating a previous story, Miami Dolphins WR Allen Hurns was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, Aug. 4.

From TheHuddle

LeSean McCoy Aug 4 6:13pm ET

Updating previous stories, free-agent RB LeSean McCoy (Chiefs) officially signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tuesday, Aug. 4.

From TheHuddle

Vincent Taylor Aug 4 6:03pm ET

Buffalo Bills DT Vincent Taylor was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, Aug. 4.

From TheHuddle

Devontae Booker Aug 4 6:03pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders RB Devontae Booker was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, Aug. 4.

From TheHuddle

P.J. Hall Aug 4 5:43pm ET

Updating a previous story, Las Vegas Raiders DT P.J. Hall was released after failing his physical with the Minnesota Vikings and the trade was nullified.

From TheHuddle

Trenton Cannon Aug 4 5:23pm ET

New York Jets RB Trenton Cannon was claimed off waivers by the Carolina Panthers Tuesday, Aug. 4.

From TheHuddle

Ukeme Eligwe Aug 4 5:23pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders LB Ukeme Eligwe opted out of the 2020 season Tuesday, Aug. 4.

From TheHuddle

Mohamed Sanu Aug 4 5:13pm ET

New England Patriots WR Mohamed Sanu (undisclosed) passed his physical and was activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list Tuesday, Aug. 4, according to a source.

Fantasy Spin: Sanu won't warrant much fantasy consideration heading into the season regardless of who is under center for the Patriots. He may become a streaming option later in the year.

From TheHuddle

P.J. Hall Aug 4 5:03pm ET

Oakland Raiders DT P.J. Hall (undisclosed) failed his physical with the Minnesota Vikings Tuesday, Aug. 4, and reverts back to the Raiders. They intend to cut him.

From TheHuddle

Cordrea Tankersley Aug 4 4:43pm ET

Miami Dolphins CB Cordrea Tankersley was waived Tuesday, Aug. 4.

From TheHuddle

Jimmy Garoppolo Aug 4 4:23pm ET

San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo provided an update on his knee Tuesday, Aug. 4, saying the difference has been night-and-day from last season and 'it's able to do whatever it needs to do.'

Fantasy Spin: Garoppolo didn't seem to be hindered too severely while guiding the Niners to the Super Bowl, and he has never provided much in terms of fantasy contributions via rushing yards. Perhaps an improved ability to scramble would help him cut back on last season's 13 interceptions. He should be viewed as a low-end QB1 or high-end QB2.

From TheHuddle

Allen Hurns Aug 4 4:13pm ET

Miami Dolphins WR Allen Hurns opted out of the 2020 season amid COVID-19 concerns Tuesday, Aug. 4, according to head coach Brian Flores.

Fantasy Spin: Hurns had been penciled in as the starter opposite DeVante Parker. Look for Preston Williams to play a larger following his surprising rookie season as an undrafted free agent.

From TheHuddle

Matthew Stafford Aug 4 4:13pm ET

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford was removed from the COVID-19 list and placed back onto the active roster Tuesday, Aug. 4. His positive test for COVID-19 was determined to be a false-positive.

Fantasy Spin: Any concern over his status and availability for the regular season should be gone. He's a strong target as a low-end QB1.

From TheHuddle

Rashaad Penny Aug 4 2:53pm ET

Seattle Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny (knee) was placed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list Tuesday, Aug. 4.

From TheHuddle

Ben Roethlisberger Aug 4 1:10pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told ESPN reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala that his arm "feels really good" in a Zoom call on Tuesday. Roethlisberger missed almost all of the 2019 season after tearing three flexor tendons in his right elbow. The veteran quarterback also stated that he has thrown way more than usual during the offseason and is in tremendous shape entering his age-38 season. Many signs point to a revitalized Pittsburgh offense this season with Roethlisberger back under center, although there is at least some concern as he's entering his 17th NFL season and has a long injury history. That being said, he's still a huge upgrade on offense over Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges from a year ago. Draft Big Ben as an upside QB2 in fantasy drafts this month.

From RotoBaller