For teams with new head coaches, Phase One of the offseason was supposed to be set to begin yesterday. Since team facilities are shut down, of course, that’s not really physically possible. But it is virtually possible, and the NFL and NFLPA are working toward making that a reality.
According to Pro Football Talk, the league issued a memo that outlines what is and is not permitted during this ‘Pre-Phase One’ period of the offseason, and, by and large, it simply takes what players would ordinarily be doing in their team facilities and puts it online or otherwise in a virtual form.
For example, it outlines that strength and conditioning coaches can consult with players about the sort of equipment that they have available to them, as well as what their fitness goals are, in order to put together a workout plan that is specifically tailored to him. Teams can also have equipment sent to the player in order to conduct the designed workout if it is requested.
It is also permitted for similar personnel—but not on-field coaches, of course—to engage players, either individually or in virtual groups on the subject of their diet, general nutrition, and other things such as yoga, going on down the line of general wellness.
As is the case during any other Phase One offseason, coaches, such as head coaches, coordinators, and position coaches, are not permitted to contact players and discuss anything pertaining to the team and their job and what would be expected of them, nor can the team in any way imply that any of this activity is anything other than purely voluntary.
Teams can, however, provide players with video, either over the internet or via a physical device such as a tablet or hard drive of some sort, containing coaching and instructional videos, diagrams, schematics, and written or audio instructions as well.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, of course, are not among the teams with new head coaches, so their virtual offseason program would not be set to begin for a little while yet still. The Cleveland Browns, however, would be one such team that would be beginning its offseason now, as they have a new head coach—as well as a new just about everything else on top of that.
Because of the unusual circumstances of the world right now, so many industries, particularly those who are able to be active in some capacity, are going to have to go about things on a trial and error basis, and learn from one another. This virtual Pre-Phase One business is just a small part of that.