New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - MARCH 17: A view of Gillette Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots, on March 17, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Quarterback Tom Brady announced he will leave the New England Patriots after 20 years with the team to enter free agency. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

The NFL has set the protocols for phase 1 of reopening team facilities. It’s expected to be set in motion this month. Most non-player personnel will be allowed to return to work, but most players will still have to stay home.

However, there’s one provision in a memo that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent to teams on Wednesday. Players can return during phase 1 if they need to resume rehab or treatment that was already taking place when facilities were shut down.

For example, Patriots defensive end Chase Winovich underwent hernia surgery in February. If he was still going to Gillette Stadium for treatment in mid-March, he’d be allowed to finish what he started.

The NFL developed the protocols with a group led by chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills. The league consulted with infectious disease doctors at Duke University, NFLPA medical director Thom Mayer, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its preparation to issue the guidelines to teams.

The Patriots and the rest of the league will be allowed to open their facilities to 50 percent of non-player personnel (perhaps up to 75 percent) once the league is ready to lift its restrictions. Teams will also need to comply with any applicable state and local guidelines in their region. They’ll need to have everything ready to go by May 15, with the league officially reopening shortly after that.

What about phase 2? Goodell’s memo says the NFL and NFLPA are currently working on the next phase, which will include players and additional non-player personnel. For fans, it’s a much-needed dose of hope that the 2020 NFL season will actually start on time.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.