Updated June 16, 2021 - 3:58 pm
Raiders coach Jon Gruden hopes his entire roster is vaccinated against COVID-19 by the time the NFL season begins in September.
Teams learned Wednesday in a memo sent by the NFL the dramatic differences between how vaccinated and unvaccinated players will be treated in rules agreed upon by the league and NFLPA.
Those that are fully vaccinated will no longer be subject to daily testing, won’t be required to wear masks at the team facility or during travel and won’t be required to quarantine after a high-risk exposure. The new regulations, which include bi-weekly testing, apply to training camp and the preseason.
Tryout players and street free agents who are fully vaccinated will not be required to endure the five days of testing protocols in order to join a team, potentially putting them at an advantage over other players vying for jobs.
Unvaccinated players largely will be governed by many of the rules from last season, from masking, distancing and daily testing to not being allowed to eat with teammates in the meal room.
They will be banned from nightclubs, bars and concerts, with fines of up to $50,000, and must travel separately from the team charter and adhere to strict guidelines that will essentially keep them in their hotel room.
It’s unclear what percentage of Raiders players are fully vaccinated. Gruden said he isn’t at liberty to discuss the number.
“I can just speak for myself and our coaches. We’ve all had our vaccinations,” he said. “I think our players have bought in. I think we’re as good as anybody in the league or better. We hope to have every man vaccinated and, most importantly, every man as safe as possible when the season starts.”
Coaches and staffers who aren’t fully vaccinated won’t be able to work directly with players in training camp, which puts the Raiders at a competitive advantage if they have reached the 100 percent staff vaccination rate Gruden cited.
Unvaccinated media members will no longer have access to team facilities or NFL press boxes.
Divine Deablo, the third-round pick out of Virginia Tech who is trying to move from safety to linebacker, still not taken the field.
Gruden expects that to change once the team returns to the facility next month.
“He’s out right now,” the coach said without offering specfiics. “We are very hopeful he’ll be ready to go for training camp.”
Praise for top pick
Gruden was asked about what he has seen out of first-round pick Alex Leatherwood.
While he prefaced all his specific comments about players with wanting to see what they look like with pads when the action ramps up in training camp, the coach made it clear he’s excited to see him while offering an unsolicited subtle nod to those who may believe the Raiders reached to draft him out of Alabama.
“He’s very smart, very athletic,” Gruden said. “He’s long. He’s a talented player. That’s why we took him. We had him ranked high on our board. We’re glad he fell to us. We’re glad he was there for us. He has a lot of experience. We’re counting on him being our starting right tackle.”
Gruden believes the passion his team has for the game and their chemistry are two of the biggest reasons for optimism.
“I like the guys,” he said. “We have guys who like each other and love football and love the preparation. A lot of these guys would play for nothing. They’d just keep practicing if I didn’t blow the whistle. We don’t have any energy vampires. We have guys who like the game and are going to compete. We have some young, exciting talent. That’s what excites me the most.”