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NFL virus-proofing a tall task

In this photo taken Aug. 5 during a Zoom interview with reporters, Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph displays the proximity tracking device that players and staff around the NFL are wearing at team facilities as part of COVID-19 protocols. (AP photo)

Like a defense stiffening at the goal line late in the game, the NFL has implemented a wide array of health protocols designed to keep the coronavirus from wrecking the 2020 season scheduled to begin four weeks from now.

Football is just as much a sport of pattern and detail as it is about speed and strength — and that has been clear as training camps around the league address life with COVID-19.

“There are so many steps along the way. You’ve got to fill out your questionnaire on our app when you wake up in the morning,” Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph said. “Then when you come in, you sanitize your hands, do your temperature check, get your COVID tests, put on your lanyard, grab your tracker. So there’s just a lot of things that have now been added to your routine.”

Daily testing, naturally, is the fulcrum of aggressive virus-proofing around team facilities. NFL Network reported that, of 109,075 coronavirus tests conducted on players, coaches and team employees through Tuesday, the rate of positive tests was 0.46% overall and 0.81% for players.

This is good news for a league that was a $16 billion business before the pandemic.

Since training camps began three weeks ago, 108 players have been placed on COVID-19 reserve lists by their respective teams — according to an Associated Press review of the league’s daily transaction logs — and 81 of those players were subsequently returned to active status on the roster. There are more than 2,600 players currently employed across the 32 clubs.

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