Falcons take the field during training camp with plenty of precautions

To try and make sure the NFL season can happen, this year's NFL training camps will look very different.

"I've got confidence," said Falcons defensive lineman Grady Jarrett. "I've got faith, not fear. I'm getting prepared for a full season. At the end of the day, what's going to happen's going to happen. I'm excited to go out here every day while I can and get ready for a season."

Jarrett and the Falcons reported to the team's Flowery Branch headquarters over the last couple weeks, but on Monday got the entire team on the field together for the first time. Because of COVID-19, there's a playbook's worth of precautions in place, many of which were on display as the team took part in their first on-field work together.

For starters, the start of the workout looked different, as players were socially distanced over two entire practice fields for stretching and warm-ups. After nice plays, there were no cheers from the crowd: the hill where fans usually sit was instead occupied by a small group of media members. 

There were also plenty of face masks and other coverings on the field. Staff members wore masks throughout the one hour session. Players were not required to wear masks on the field, but plenty did for portions of the work. Running back Todd Gurley was among a few players to wear their masks while actually going through drills, though Gurley said that was to help his conditioning.

"Feel like everybody has been doing a pretty good job of making sure we stay safe, doing all the protocol stuff," said Gurley. "Just take it day by day and see where we go."

Monday started the "acclimation period" of training camp, during which activity is limited and coaches are not allowed to be on the field with players. This is part of a strategy to slowly ramp up towards full contact practices, after offseason work and minicamps were canceled because of the coronavirus.

"Getting guys acclimated, back to moving around," said Jarrett. "Running plays, running stunts, just so we're not going 0 to 100 and thinking about health part of it for the players."

More safety measures were behind the scenes in Flowery Branch, including COVID-19 testing and complete rethinking of how the Falcons utilize the space at their facility.

The big question seems to be what happens away from the team's headquarters, and those of other teams around the league. While safety precautions are in place at the NFL team sites, when players go home, teams have no control over what happens or what safety measures are taken.

Jarrett joked that he always likes to keep his social circle small, so COVID-19 just gives him a new excuse to turn down invitations he's not crazy about. He says, however, it will be on players overall, especially team leaders, to make sure players stay safe when they're off the field.

"I think guys around here have a pretty good understanding of how important it is," said Jarrett. "[Head coach Dan Quinn] has done a great job of letting us know. As a leader, it's my job to make sure guys are taking care of themselves away from the facility. We all want to have a season."