NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The positive test results keep coming for the Tennessee Titans in the NFL’s first outbreak of COVID-19, and they're not alone anymore with the league postponing the New England Patriots-Kansas City Chiefs due to positive tests on both teams.
The coronavirus pandemic is making its presence known in the NFL.
The league is hoping to have the Patriots play the Chiefs in Kansas City on either Monday or Tuesday. But the Titans have had positive test results stream in daily for five days straight and could put the Titans' next home game against Buffalo (3-0) on Oct. 11 at risk with the NFL forced into even more rearranging of the schedule.
The NFL postponed Sunday's game between New England and the Super Bowl champs after “positive COVID-19 tests on both teams.” ESPN reported on Saturday that Patriots quarterback Cam Newton was among those testing positive. The league also pushed the Colts-Bears game from an early kickoff to 4:25 p.m. to fill the slot left open by the Patriots-Chiefs.
On Saturday, the Titans added defensive lineman Jeffery Sismmons to the reserve/COVID-19 list. Two staff members also tested positive for COVID-19, raising the team’s total to 18 since Sept. 24, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because neither the NFL nor the Titans had announced the latest results. Titans coach Mike Vrabel said Wednesday he wouldn't be identifying staff members who had tested positive.
The Titans' outbreak seemingly started Sept. 24 when the Titans placed cornerback Greg Mabin from their practice squad on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Since outside linebacker coach Shane Bowen’s test result came back positive on Sept. 26, the Titans have had now eight players and seven other team personnel test positive. Bowen didn’t travel with Tennessee (3-0) to Minnesota for their 31-30 win last week.
The Titans now on the reserve/COVID-19 list include: defensive captain DaQuan Jones, long snapper Beau Brinkley, wide receiver Adam Humphries, outside linebacker Kamalei Correa, and rookie cornerback Kristian Fulton, their second-round pick out of LSU, with receiver Cameron Batson and tight end Tommy Hudson from the practice squad.
Jones and Simmons are the interior of the Titans' defensive front with Simmons the 19th pick overall in April 2019.
Offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson, Tennessee’s first-round pick out of Georgia, has been on the reserve/COVID-19 list since Sept. 6.
The NFL first postponed, then rescheduled the Titans’ game set for Sunday against Pittsburgh to Oct. 25 during Tennessee’s bye. The league also moved Baltimore’s bye to Week 7, so the Ravens now can play Pittsburgh on Nov. 1.
Officials from the NFL and its players’ union met with the Titans on Friday reviewing the situation.
The Minnesota Vikings (0-3) again had no positive test results from Friday’s tests, and they remain scheduled to visit Houston (0-3) on Sunday as scheduled. The Vikings went back to work inside their facility Thursday.
The Titans had hoped to return to work inside their own building Monday or Tuesday. The league has new protocols for teams dealing with an outbreak or exposed to a team with an outbreak to follow that include two different daily tests and gloves and face masks for everyone, including players, during practices.
With each day bringing more positive results, that return is in jeopardy.
The NFL announced Friday that the league and its players’ union agreed to extend daily testing for the foreseeable future. That includes teams during bye weeks, requiring players to stick around.
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