NFL was forced to adapt during coronavirus pandemic and some changes

Navigating a global pandemic forced the NFL to constantly adapt to and overcome obstacles in order to complete its 2020 season. With 268 games in the books and just Super Bowl 55 remaining, it’s now worth wondering how many of the league’s countermeasures and protocols might go viral in the future and/or how much will revert to the norm once the country moves past the worst of COVID-19.”I would love to think that we can get back to normal next (season),” Baltimore Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta told USA TODAY Sports. “I’m not sure what we’ll do. I think we’ve all gotten used to different things — Zoom, off-site meetings … the way we travel, restrictions.”It’s been almost a year since the novel coronavirus knocked the league for a loop. The 2020 scouting combine had barely wrapped in early March when the virus really began to take hold nationally. Pro days were cancelled, free agency was disrupted, offseason programs were re-imagined — the New Orleans Saints scrapped theirs entirely — and the entire draft was ultimately conducted in a virtual format rather than on the Las Vegas Strip. Training camps eventually opened, featuring an acclimation period before full-fledged hitting commenced. There were no joint practices, and there was no preseason. But the regular season started Sept. 10, as scheduled, and concluded Jan. 3, as scheduled — and, though several games had to be rescheduled (some more than once) when a few teams were in the clutches of the virus, not one was canceled. And the on-field product was as entertaining as ever, a league-record 12,692 points scored in the regular season.”The quality of play this year from the start — for the most part, you wouldn’t have known the difference,” former New York Giants vice president of player personnel Marc Ross, now an NFL Network analyst, told USA TODAY Sports. “The quality of play was still high.”That was likely due in part to the increased roster flexibility the league granted all 32 teams in 2020. Clubs could carry up to 16 practice squad players including, for the first time, veterans (up to six) who had more than two accrued seasons of service in the NFL. An unlimited number of players could also be recalled from injured reserve after spending three weeks on the list. (Normally, a team can only designate two players to return from IR and only after he’s missed at least eight games.)”I’d love for them to stay,” Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said of the roster management rules, which may remain in 2021 depending on the pandemic’s staying power. “The protocols, I thought the league did a really, really good job.”DeCosta, whose team made the playoffs even though COVID altered the Ravens’ schedule and cost quarterback Lamar Jackson one game, agreed.”I would have to give a lot of credit to the league,” he said. “It hasn’t been easy — not without challenge — but I think they’ve been resolute. I also give a lot of credit to the players for what they’ve had to endure.

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