TAMPA — Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and his staff returned to the team’s facility for the first time since mid-March, when COVID-19 shut down the building and sports leagues everywhere.
As the team eyes a July 21 training camp start, the staff assembled for a week of preparations. Camp will be the first time players are allowed back in the building.
Coaches entered the facility wearing masks and had to go through thermal screening to ensure their temperature was 100.4 degrees or below. The facility was already outfitted for social distancing with one-way hallways and meeting rooms with occupancy limits.
Before walking into the building, they were given masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and health questionnaires to be filled out daily. They met in the team meeting room instead of the regular coaches meeting room so they could spread out, and coaches had to close their office doors if they wanted to take off their masks.
The coaches are expected to be in the facility for just one week and return before camp starts. The team will continue having virtual organized team activities, which includes video conferencing meetings and specialized app-based workouts through the end of next week. The only players who have been allowed in the team facility are those who had been rehabbing injuries when the pandemic shut the facility down.
The team opened the facility for some employees, mostly on the business side, last week.
There’s still a lot of uncertainty about what training camp will look like, but Arians said recently he didn’t expect practices to be open to fans. He said the Bucs have canceled joint practices with the Titans and Jaguars that were scheduled for the weeks leading up to their preseason games against those teams in August.
The latest step in the Bucs’ soft re-opening of their facility comes on the same day of reports that Texans and Cowboys players, including Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott, recently tested positive for COVID-19. None of the players were believed to have been in their team’s facilities, NFL.com reported.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay. Follow @EddieInTheYard.