NFL teams combating coronavirus in high-tech (and low-tech) ways

NFL teams have made lots of updates to their training facilities, hoping to keep players, coaches and staff safe and healthy from the coronavirus during training camp. Of course, there is lots of signage promoting distancing and hand cleansing, but new and innovative technology for tracing and safety is also prevalent.

The Texans installed facial-recognition systems that automatically open doors for all Tier 1 and Tier 2 members (which includes players, coaches and support staff), ensuring highly trafficked areas are completely touchless. “It’s like we’re in a ‘Terminator’ movie or something,” J.J. Watt said. “There’s facial recognition doors, you don’t touch anybody and you have a beeper you have to wear. It’s pretty wild.” — Sarah Barshop

Courtesy Houston Texans

The Vikings are utilizing hydration racks at practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19. All players get an individual bottle of water or Gatorade with their name on and are not permitted to share with other players. Racks are designated by position group and hold 12 bottles per unit. Single-use bottles of Gatorade are also on hand for players and coaches. — Courtney Cronin

The players, coaches and staffers on the Jets wear a tracking system on their wrist or around their neck on a lanyard. Each one is personalized. They’re given out each morning when the person checks into the facility and goes through COVID-19 protocols. The players wear them when practicing. Some of them insert them into a wristband that has a zipper. Mainly, the purpose is contact tracing, but they also light up and have a piercing “siren” if a person goes within 6 feet of someone who doesn’t have their level of clearance. — Rich Cimini

Before Cowboys players can enter The Star, they must pass through a thermal scanner that checks their body temperature. After a few seconds, a reading is made, and if the temperature is below 100.4 degrees, the player is cleared to enter with a “Thank you” on the screen. — Todd Archer

The audience was much smaller and far more virtual for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo when he held his first Zoom news conference of training camp on Aug. 4. With the facility closed to media because of COVID-19, the 49ers are still using their normal auditorium setup but with a large monitor for players to see reporters who are asking questions. — Nick Wagoner

Courtesy San Francisco 49ers

The Lions revamped their dining facilities to make it easier to work with new social distancing guidelines. That includes a larger tent for people to eat in to promote proper spacing and an app on which players and coaches can order food beforehand, have it prepared and then have it ready to go for pickup at a designated time. General manager Bob Quinn’s goal was to have the majority of the football-side staffers using the app by the second week of training camp. — Michael Rothstein

The Rams installed a pedal on refrigerators throughout the practice facility to ensure touchless access when players and staff grab a drink. With one push of the foot, the refrigerator door slides open, creating a touchless experience that helps slow the spread of germs. — Lindsey Thiry

To accommodate social distancing, the Browns turned their weight room into a second locker room and transformed their indoor fieldhouse into a weight room for players such as Odell Beckham Jr. That’s left Cleveland without an indoor practice option, but new coach Kevin Stefanski isn’t concerned. “We’re an outdoor football team,” he said. — Jake Trotter

Courtesy Cleveland Browns

The Dolphins installed the first of 40 Cleanse Retrofit Troffers — UV light fixtures to provide enhanced ventilation inside the locker room and that aim to dispel coronavirus pathogens — prior to players arriving for training camp. The goal is to add another layer of security and safety to the current COVID-19 protocols. — Cameron Wolfe

Think of the Saints’ GreenZapr as taking hand sanitizer to the extreme. A member of the grounds crew drives this unit over the practice fields three times a day, whether the team practices or not, dispersing a disinfecting solution over every blade of grass. — Mike Triplett

Courtesy New Orleans Saints

Because there are no fans allowed at training camp this summer, players’ and coaches’ families also cannot attend, so most days the Broncos have a screen displaying a live Zoom call positioned outside the team’s locker room at the University of Colorado Health Training Center. Most days one player’s family is among fans on the screen for the player to see and talk to briefly. On this day Jurrell Casey’s family dropped in. — Jeff Legwold

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