Christian Wilkins is entering his second season in the NFL and already, he has taken on a leadership role with the Miami Dolphins both on and off the field. As the NFLPA representative for the Dolphins, he has been involved in many of the discussions regarding the return to football and what that may look like for the upcoming 2020 NFL season.
Leading up to yesterday’s NFLPA conference call with player agents – which PFN Insider Tony Pauline reported on in real-time – Wilkins said that the NFLPA was doing a good job of trying to figure everything out.
“We’re really just trying to figure out the best way, and the safest way to carry out with the season this year or starting up on time and things like that. There’s a lot that goes into it, but really everyone is working hard on their end to try to figure something out. That’s really all that I can share, is that we are trying to figure everything out and do it in the safest way possible where it’s the best for everybody involved.”
Players looking for a safe environment for themselves and their family
Further, Wilkins said that he wants to ensure that the NFLPA and the NFL are taking steps to not only protect the players but also their family members when they go back home. This includes having a clear plan for everyone involved and an organized process for executing this plan.
“Really, I just want to know if we can do everything in the safest manner possible and that there is a clear plan for everyone involved and that things can be done in an orderly fashion and in the safest way possible, because that’s all we care about,” Wilkins said. “We always talk about player safety and it’s bigger than just the players on the field because things like that could affect our family, our loved ones and stuff like that too. I just want to know that there is a set plan that that in order to get on the field and get out there, and if someone does contract the virus or whatever, that there is a plan for that, and everything can be handled orderly and cleanly really.”
Fortunately, for Wilkins, it appears that the NFLPA has thought through a lot of different scenarios, although there is still much to be done and figured out over the next 30 days. Here’s the latest on what the NFLPA and NFL are planning for when players return to team facilities.
Teams to test players every three days
One of the bigger takeaways from the phone call as it relates to player safety is how the NFL plans to test those who are on the field and in the facility.
Pauline reported that the NFLPA is looking at risk factors seriously because, despite the incredible condition they are in, they are not immune to the harmful effects of the virus. Because of this, the goal is to fit football into the virus, not the other way around.
Part of this includes developing face shields for players to wear to stop the transmission of the virus while the players are on the field. They are also working on ways to test players and expect a 90% chance of a legitimate saliva test for the virus by the time training camp opens in just over a month from now.
And how often might that testing take place? Per Pauline, the plan is to have players, coaches, and staff tested once they return to team facilities. Additionally, the expectation will be that everyone is tested every three days.
What will happen with players who have pre-existing medical conditions?
Another major discussion point on the phone call was regarding players who may have pre-existing medical conditions. These players are of course more vulnerable to the effects of contracting the virus. If a player in such a situation is unable to return to football in 2020, what will be the ramifications be for that player?
While no concrete plan has been put into place, the NFLPA is looking at protecting the compensation and contracts of players who may be unable to return to a team facility and play in 2020 because of their medical condition.
Will there be increased roster sizes?
One logical conclusion to counter any players who may need to be quarantined is to increase roster sizes. And because of this logic, the NFLPA is considering a proposal to expand camp rosters to 95 players and delaying cut down dates. However, you also have to look at the other side of the coin.
While it would certainly help teams out, bringing in more players to a facility and on the practice field presents a greater risk for the virus to be spread. The NFLPA is trying to work on a resolution to this double-edged sword and hope to have something to the players in the next 30 days.
Beyond the off-field logistics, Wilkins is ready to play ball
As the NFLPA rep for the Dolphins, Wilkins is tasked with staying up to date on the latest correspondence and also knowing the pulse of his team. And while he’s working hard off the field to fulfill his role as NFLPA rep, Wilkins has also been fine-tuning his game. In 2020, he’s ready to step up and continue to do as much as he can for the defense.
“The saying in the NFL is, the more you can do the better, so I always try to add a lot to my game, and that comes from film study, working out hard, just really honing in on my craft at every position on the defensive line. That versatility is huge and I’m glad I’m able to do that for this team, because anything that can help this team I’m all for. We’ve got a really versatile defense. We do a lot of different fronts, a lot of different things upfront. I’m glad I’m able to do those things as a big part of our defense.”