Lane Johnson Participating In OL Summit Despite NFLPA Cautions
Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson and potential starting right guard Matt Pryor are among roughly 50 NFL offensive linemen participating in an offensive linemen summit over the next two days in the Dallas area, amid the Covid-19 pandemic that continues to hit Texas, among other states, extremely hard. Although the NFLPA has urged its players to avoid working out in groups, the third annual OL Mastermind Summit is proceeding as usual, but also taking precautions, according to this story by Michael Gehlken from the Dallas Morning News. Johnson, entering his eight season and coming off his third straight Pro Bowl berth, is a co-founder of the event, along with renowned offensive line instructor Duke Manyweather. The event will take place at the Omni Frisco Hotel in Frisco, Texas, about 25 miles north of Dallas.
Although the event takes place indoors and will feature sessions devoted to film review, footwork, hand usage, mental processing along with on-field-type work at a walk-through pace, according to the story, the following medical precautions will also be taken:
At the check-in desk, face masks will be supplied. Digital temperature readings will be administered. A liability waiver must be signed. Inside the ballroom, circular tables that usually seat eight will seat four. Chairs will be positioned apart like corners to a square. Tables also will be staggered about 10 feet apart with hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes stationed atop them.
To mitigate risk of transmission, no handheld microphone will be spoken into or shared, Mayweather said. No group photo will be taken with everyone clustered together. Manyweather said that he and other speakers may not wear a mask when speaking in the ballroom, but he’s expected to stand at least 15 feet apart from the nearest table.
The story said the following NFL linemen are expected to attend: Terron Armstead (Saints), rookie Mekhi Becton (Jets), Trent Brown (Raiders) and Laremy Tunsil (Texans), among others. It didn't mention any other Eagles aside from Johnson, who told the Morning News that he recently tested negative in both viral and antibody coronavirus testing, but NJ.com's Mike Kaye reported, per a source, that Pryor is among the group. Pryor, entering his third year, is the lead candidate to replace injured Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks, who recently tore his Achilles. Is the reward worth the risk for the Eagles' linemen? Texas has seen a surge in positive cases this week, with about 10,000 new cases per day from July 7-9, according to the state. Here's what the NFLPA's medical director has said about player collaborations during the pandemic:
Clearly, the NFLPA is advising its players to steer clear of gatherings like these as the league and union are deeply involved in return-to-work protocols predicated on health and safety in order to ensure that as many players as possible can be ready for the expected July 28 start of camp. A source close to Johnson said the summit is important to the Eagles' left tackle because it's about improvement and camaraderie. The story quotes Manyweather talking about the importance of mental health amid the pandemic:
"Sometimes, situations like this, yes, we are going to do any and everything possible to make sure that we’re staying safe. A lot of guys feel like they need this for their mental psyche, to be involved, to have that fellowship. It’s been a long six months for a lot of people."
Like many choices, Johnson's decision will likely be judged in a vacuum. If he and other participants report to their camps later this month Covid-free, nobody will even mention the summit. If Johnson or other participants catch the virus between now and then, critics will point to the summit – whether or not it can be proven that the virus was contracted there. That's the calculated risk Johnson and the other participating linemen are taking. Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is a longtime Philadelphia Eagles and NFL reporter and co-host of Inside the Birds. Catch the latest "Inside the Birds" podcast here: