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Coach Bruce Arians Says Extra Measures to Prevent Covid-19 Spread Should Help Bucs

Bucs coach Bruce Arians’ message to his players in the team’s first full-squad meeting of training camp focused on commitment — not just to winning, but adhering to the protocols that will help keep COVID-19 from affecting the season, Eduardo A. Encina of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

“If we have all our players, I like our chances,” Arians said Wednesday on a video conference call with reporters.

Arians is confident the Bucs will be able to prevent the virus from infiltrating the team and avoid recent outbreaks that Major League Baseball has seen with the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals.

The Bucs are taking extra precautions, including sequestering part of an area hotel for players who want to remain isolated in a simulated bubble-type atmosphere. A bus takes players who stay there to and from the facility. The division-rival Saints are doing the same thing, renting four floors of a downtown New Orleans hotel for players and staff who want to sequester during training camp.

“We have a hotel sequestered now,” Arians said. “We can’t force the guys to go, so it’s up to them. We have some veterans over there who don’t live in town, because they know how safe it’ll be and, obviously, we stay there the night before home games like we always have.”

The NFL season won’t be played in a bubble like the NHL, NBA, WNBA or MLS, and the size of football rosters creates more opportunity for exposure. Still, Arians, whose players and staff will undergo daily testing and work in a completely redesigned facility for social distancing, believes the Bucs can be successful.

Two players and an assistant coach tested positive for COVID-19 in June. And last week, draft picks Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Raymond Calais, as well as second-year running back Aca’Cedric Ware, were placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, which is for players who either test positive or were in close contact with an infected person. No other players have been placed on the list since Calais and Ware went on it Friday.

“We’ve talked about having a commitment to each other, and it only takes one to sink the ship,” Arians said. “And right now I think it’ll be easier to handle, although we’ll still have 69 guys this year once we get going after the cuts. So it’s gonna be a little bit harder, but it’s gonna take a hell of a commitment from everybody.”

Players, staff and media wear devices that indicate when individuals are too close to each other.

Inside the facility, no space is unused. Full-squad meetings, which used to be held inside the team auditorium, are now held in the indoor facility, where Arians has to use a TV screen and microphone to talk to his players Position groups were relocated to larger rooms where they can spread out. Some weights and training equipment have been moved outside under a tent. Players have to spread out while eating, which forces some to eat outside. Players and staff are tested daily.

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