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NFL cancels combine because of pandemic

NFL cancels combine because of pandemic

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Defensive back Jeff Okudah of Ohio State prepares to run the 40- yard dash during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on Feb. 29, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Defensive back Jeff Okudah of Ohio State prepares to run the 40-yard dash during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on Feb. 29, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. This year's combine has been canceled due to the pandemic. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images/TNS)

Coronavirus canceled the NFL Combine.

A special league committee chaired by Giants co-owner John Mara has determined that the annual late-February Indianapolis spectacle of player workouts, prospect medical exams, and late-night rumor milling will not take place due to obvious health and safety concerns.

Instead, player workouts will happen at pro days on college campuses, and teams will have to interview prospects virtually rather than in person.

Giants senior VP of medical services Ronnie Barnes also is on the NFL committee that is developing a plan to obtain “comprehensive medical information on each of the invited prospects,” as described in a memo sent Monday to the league’s 32 teams.

The medical plan is expected to include a combination of virtual interviews by club medical staffs and testing done at labs and facilities near the prospect’s home.

For “a certain number” of prospects — perhaps projected first-rounders and those widely considered potential injury risks — an in-person exam will take place at one or more locations likely in early April, the memo said.

Each team will be permitted to send one physician and one athletic trainer to conduct those in-person exams, which will likely be scheduled over a two or three day period.

The memo said prospects will conduct interviews with the media virtually. The committee also asked teams to make their GMs and head coaches available virtually to the media, as a replacement for their normal podium pressers in Indy.

The combine’s cancellation places extra emphasis on next week’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., as an opportunity for GMs and scouts to evaluate prospects in person, and to begin informal conversations with agents and peers on potential signings and trades.

The college pro day circuit also will take center stage.

The NFL really had no choice here due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. And even if owners had wanted to try moving the Combine back a few weeks, they couldn’t because the NCAA men’s basketball tournament starts on March 14 and is being played almost exclusively in Indianapolis.

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