The locker room is no longer a singular entity. The weight room now has lockers. The indoor fieldhouse is also a weight room.
That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all of the changes that have been made to the Browns' practice facility in Berea since players last roamed the halls at the end of 2019. It will be the new home for Cleveland's players when they're officially cleared to enter following three negative COVID-19 tests over a four-day stretch.
"We definitely have a new normal," said Joe Sheehan, Cleveland's Senior Vice President of Player Health and Development.
The days of players parking their car, swiping their badge and heading straight to the cafeteria for a quick breakfast are long gone. Until the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end, the way they traverse the practice facility from entrance to exit will be regimented and backed by a plan that has been crafted with the players' health at the top of mind.
There is no way to completely eliminate the threat of COVID-19, which has accounted for more than 4 million cases and 150,000 deaths in the U.S. since March. There are, however, preventative measures that can decrease the likelihood of it spreading throughout a facility like the Browns', and Sheehan assured the team has made numerous, major changes to ensure the best possible odds.
"This virus is endemic in our society, and there is just no way to completely eliminate the risk," Sheehan said. "The NFL, the NFLPA and really every team have been tasked with making our facilities as safe as we possibly can to mitigate the risk of the extent of the virus, and we feel really good about our plan."
Browns players arrived at the facility Tuesday morning for the start of camp
The biggest changes have been made to the areas in which Cleveland's players spend most of their time.
The locker room, which previously housed 90 players during this part of the calendar, now holds 40. Plexiglass has been placed between the spaced-out lockers and the floor plan will allow the players to maintain at least 6 feet of social distance at all times. The rest of Cleveland's players' lockers are now located inside what used to be the team's state-of-the-art weight room. And the weight room has now been transported to the team's 9,000-square foot indoor fieldhouse, which becomes an even safer space when doors are opened to allow for better air circulation.
The cafeteria no longer serves food buffet style or allows the players to gather for their meals. Instead, meals are pre-packaged and the players can disperse to other parts of the building to eat.
There's also been a significant increase in meeting space that will allow players to gather in smaller, safer groups throughout the day. Making this happen required a major facelift to the facility's second floor, particularly to areas that previously housed members of the team's business staff. The majority of those employees have been and will continue to work from home.
If the Browns are to gather as a full team, it will have to be outside or virtual.
"We have to ensure that we are socially distanced," Sheehan said. "Whether that can occur in our field house or outside, we are going to have a large team meeting that does have to be done under the guidelines of being socially distanced."
When Browns players enter the facility, they will go through a daily health screening and have their temperature taken. Employees who have access to the facility have been placed in tiers and are only permitted to be in certain areas, further lessening the potential for spread of the virus. They'll also be equipped with a tracking device that will help provide guidance in the event a player, coach or staff member tests positive for COVID-19.
Those devices won't go home with the players, though. That's why Sheehan, head team physician Dr. James Voos, head coach Kevin Stefanski and more are encouraging them to engage in responsible behavior even when they're outside of the facility.
"We are ultimately all in this together, and everyone really has to understand that every decision they make both inside the building and outside the building should be done in an attempt to mitigate the risk of the spread of the virus," Sheehan said. "We all kind of share that collective responsibility to our success, and we are all kind of looking forward to really working together to ensure we do that."
Check out behind the scenes photos of the Browns' practice facility in Berea