ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Many of the NFL players who decided to opt-out of the 2020 season because of coronavirus concerns were big men.
Offensive and defensive linemen who mix it up in the trenches and grab and sweat and snort and breath all over each other.
Of the 68 players who officially opted out, 35 were offensive or defensive linemen, including the two Broncos’ opt-outs: Nose tackle Kyle Peko and offensive right tackle Ja’Wuan James.
Jurrell Casey is a Broncos’ big man at 6-foot-1, 305 pounds who is a defensive tackle by trade, perhaps an inside defensive end in Vic Fangio’s 3-4 system.
Yet, after nine seasons with the Tennessee Titans, Casey is ready to play season 10 with the Broncos.
"I definitely feel safe," Casey said in a Zoom media conference call with the Denver media. "I think the processes that have been put in place, the protocols, it’s definitely been beneficial so far.
"The way they test and the way we’ve been keeping ourselves away from each other, keeping our hygiene up -- that’s been key so far. We’ve been doing great with this organization, I can’t speak for others around the league but I know here with the Broncos we’ve been doing the right protocols to keep ourselves and our guys healthy."
Per the NFL and players union amended collective bargaining agreement, players had to take the COVID-19 test three times in five days just to enter team headquarters. And then they have to test 14 consecutive days.
All that testing eases a player’s mind.
"We’re all getting tested every single day so you have that good feeling that you know that the person next to you doesn’t have it right now," said Broncos’ running back Phillip Lindsay. "You feel kind of normal. You just have to do the protocol stuff. You’ve got to wear your mask all the time. You’ve got wear your tracers which tell you to stay away from somebody for a certain amount of time.
"Right now it’s become the new norm. You’ve got to adjust. I think we’ve done a really good job of adjusting. Staying clean. The staff to the janitors. All the coaches have been doing a phenomenal job of keeping us safe. And cleaning right after us.
"I feel like the janitors should a pay raise for what they have to do to keep this place running."
Having played football at Denver South High School and the University of Colorado, Lindsay understands the safety measures he has in the NFL cannot be duplicated at the high school and college levels. Asked about all the college football conferences postponing the 2020 season until at least the spring of 2021, Lindsay believes the school and conference officials are making the right call.
"It’s scary. For those kids, they don’t have the protocols that we have," Lindsay said. "They don’t have the money to get tested every day. People come in here and clean every day. You have a bunch of kids that aren’t going to listen and stay at home. They’re going to be all around. They’ve got to go to class, they’ve got to do this, so honestly, I’ve seen it coming.
"Until they come up with something, I don’t think those kids should play because it’s real. I’ve seen people close to me who have had it that have been in the hospital for seven, eight, nine days. And it’s scary, it really is.
"I understand where the kids are coming from. But at the end of the day it’s also about being healthy and it’s about doing the right thing. I think they should have their eligibility back to be able to play but here it’s easier because there’s not as many kids or as many men here. And we have the money to do it.
"These kids, they’re not giving these kids the money and the tools so that they can be safe. Telling the kid to go out there and play for our satisfaction, that’s not cool."
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