The Dallas Cowboys are not taking any chances in their fight to combat COVID-19. The team has done well thus far in following the mandated league protocol to prevent the spread of the disease and, thanks to their vigilance, nearly none of their 80 players have found themselves moved to the Reserve/COVID-19 list as training camp gets underway. The only two to this point were cornerback Saivion Smith and wide receiver Jon'Vea Johnson, both having now returned to the active roster.
That's seemingly not enough for the team though, and players have taken the added measure of voluntarily establishing a bubble, sources confirm to CBS Sports -- with coaches and other personnel set to join them.
The bubble, set up at the Omni Hotel that stands near Cowboys headquarters and is literally connected to The Ford Center (a 12,000-seat practice venue), has already gained traction, with the expectation most (if not all, potentially) will join in participating. What makes the bubble that much more appealing is the familiarity the hotel has with the organization beyond the obvious and stated, but in that the Omni routinely houses players and coaches during the regular season, on evenings ahead of home games.
The hotel is well-prepped to deliver anything a player might need, including immediate access to treatment facilities.
It's a perfect setup for the Cowboys, much like what the New Orleans Saints have themselves. The latter has also set up a bubble using adjacent hotel(s), in the hopes of shutting out COVID-19. As both the NBA and NHL have demonstrated, bubbles can be extremely effective in the battle against the spread of the novel coronavirus. But as the MLB is discovering, lack of a bubble can eventually wreak havoc on a team and potentially the league itself. While the NFL, on the whole, hasn't committed to attempting any sort of bubble setup, the Cowboys are at least creating one in a training camp capacity.
A separate source tells CBS Sports the looming idea was one reason the team saw only three players opt out of the season, and none of those players being cornerstone figures. They saw undrafted free agent receiver Stephen Guidry and newly-signed cornerback Maurice Canady opt out, joined later by fullback Jamize Olawale, but did not lose defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence -- following weeks of consideration by the All-Pro.
It's unclear how the NFL season will unfold amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but it now goes without saying the Cowboys are joining the Saints in leading the way in taking the threat seriously. While the bubble in Dallas isn't mandated by team personnel, but rather fueled by vigilant players, it's an idea most everyone is on board with -- including Dak Prescott, who's already moved into the Omni Hotel for camp.
"The healthiest team will have the best shot to win," he told media ahead of the team's first practice.
Truer words haven't been spoken regarding the 2020 NFL season.