By 7 a.m. on Tuesday, the NovaCare Complex was buzzing.
Huge white tents set up in three locations in front of the entrances to the building were in place, designating specific areas for players, coaches, and Eagles administration to enter their workplace. Cars lined up for drive-thru COVID-19 tests, one of two required by the end of this week for the few employees, beyond players and coaches, to participate in Training Camp.
It's a start. What happens next isn't exactly clear – more on that later – as the NFL and the Players Association continue discussions and iron out the final details of what camps across the league will look like in advance of the 2020 regular season.
But for the first time since March, the NovaCare Complex looked, on the outside at least, like football was right around the corner. Since the Eagles closed the NovaCare Complex on Friday, March 13, the building has been open only to those working on the very specific requirements to make the building a safe working environment. Needless to say, there has been a lot of work ongoing as office space has shifted, open areas created, and every conceivable safety measure put in place.
Tuesday marked the "open" of the Training Camp period as Eagles rookies and first-year players reported for testing in accordance with the new testing protocols agreed to between the NFL and the NFLPA. It is a multi-day process outlined in the league protocols, and during this time the players will be permitted to engage in remote learning only. There is still some distance to go in the talks, and there is no concrete date for those young players to actually get on the field and practice.
You'll hear a lot of noise in the next day or so as the talks go back and forth, and only when the details are official will the Eagles release the specifics of practice times, dates, and media availability. The preseason schedule? You'll know if there is a preseason when everything is buttoned up and official.
Until then, we're measuring progress in small mouthfuls.
The Eagles have taken care of the business side of things, agreeing to terms with all 10 of their draft picks. They also made a roster move on Monday, releasing wide receiver Khalil Tate. The Eagles now have 13 receivers on the roster. Two more moves were made on Tuesday as center Keegan Render was waived and cornerback Trevor Williams was released. The Eagles currently have 88 players on the roster (including international practice squad exemption defensive end Matt Leo).
At this point, the Eagles are preparing as an organization that has spent weeks and months meticulously preparing for the unknown. The coaching staff is working on the scripts to maximize the time with the players on and off the field. The modifications to the NovaCare Complex continue with player, coach, and staff safety at the top of mind.
So, there is some juice growing. The buzz is getting louder. Tuesday was only the first step, but it was a big one. For the first time in many months, the joint was jumping, if only a little bit. With three 100-yard practice fields in perfect condition, the feeling of Eagles football was in the air, and it felt great to breathe in a tiny gulp.