Gurley, Jarrett voice safety concerns on returning

Falcons’ Grady Jarrett on the defense and feeding first-responders

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Falcons’ Grady Jarrett on the defense and feeding first-responders

Falcons running back Todd Gurley and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett took part in the NFLPA’s coordinated effort to voice their concerns about returning to play in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday.

Several players around the league posted on social media with Tweets sarting around noon with the hashtag #WeWantToPlay.

“I know you guys want to see football this year but we need the NFL to step up and create safer work environments for the players,” Jarrett posted.

The Falcons can welcome their rookie class on Tuesday. The quarterbacks and injured players can report on Thursday with the rest of the veterans reporting on July 28. Teams were notified of the opening days Saturday in a memo from Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations.

The Falcons’ rookie class of 2020 has not had a physical practice after going through a virtual offseason program. Some practiced with their teammates away from the facility.

The players don’t want to play exhibition games, while the NFL wants to play two games.

Also, the players want to be tested daily and not periodically.

“On the frequency of testing we believe that daily testing is important, especially given some of these hot spots, and right now we don’t plan on changing that position,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said on Friday. “It doesn’t mean that we won’t continue to talk about it, but we were clear about our belief that daily testing is going to be necessary and we’re always open to the plans to make our players as safe as possible.”

Teams normally play four exhibition games, but have been resting starters for much of the gamesover the past few seasons.

“Engaging in two games where players would be flying all over the country and then being together to engage in work, we feel that doing that prior to the season doesn’t properly influence or increase the likelihood of starting and finishing the season on time,” Smith said.

The players, after no formal offseason training, want a longer acclimation period to get ready for the season. They want to avoid a rash of soft-tissue injuries in a hurry to get the season started.

“The joint task force agreed on an acclimation period for our guys to get them ready for football, and a lot of that frankly was influenced by what we learned coming back into camp after the 2011 season and the number of injuries, the spike in injuries because we didn’t feel there was the right acclimation,” Smith said. “So, we’re going to insist and continue to fight for the right acclimation period.”

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