After three blissfully uneventful weeks in the NFL — at least as far as COVID-19 is concerned — the virus has begun to rear its ugly head. Let’s get you up to date with all the pandemic-related happenings in the league:
- One more Titans player and one more Tennessee personnel member tested positive, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets, bringing the total to 20 positive tests (10 players and 10 personnel). Since the Titans have now had positive tests on six straight days, the soonest they could reopen their facilities would be Wednesday, October 7 (Twitter link via Schefter). Tennessee is scheduled to play the Bills next Sunday, October 11.
- Schefter says in a full-length piece that the league and union are investigating whether the Titans violated COVID-19 protocols, and the team has been asked to turn over multiple videotapes of team activities. At least one source believes Tennessee failed to follow the protocols, and if that turns out to be true, the club could face punishment in the form of fines or draft pick forfeiture. Another source thinks that the league will ultimately look to make an example out of the Titans.
- Luckily, no other team had a positive test from yesterday’s round of testing, as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network observes (via Twitter). That includes the Patriots and Chiefs, both of whom recently had a player test positive (starting QB Cam Newton of New England, and practice squad QB Jordan Ta’amu of Kansas City). But as Schefter cautions, the virus has an incubation period, and Newton was in the huddle all week with teammates (Twitter link). There will be another round of testing today, but if the tests come back negative, the plan is to have the Pats and Chiefs play each other on Monday night, per Dianna Russini of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Newton, of course, will miss that game, and his availability for Week 5 is also in doubt.
- There was a scare last night when ProFootballTalk reported (via Twitter) that a Saints player had tested positive. Subsequent reports indicated that the player was fullback Michael Burton, but as Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football tweeted, Burton’s retest came back negative, so the Saints’ game against the Lions will go on today as scheduled.
- Hopefully the league will be able to recover from these scares, but Mark Maske of the Washington Post says the NFL is looking into the possibility of adding a Week 18 to the regular season schedule to accommodate postponed games (Twitter link). ProFootballTalk adds that multiple coaches have discussed the possibility of temporarily suspending the season, reconfiguring the schedule to allow for 12 total games, and then putting teams in hotels for the nine games that would remain (Twitter link).
- Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that the league will hold a mandatory phone call for coaches, GMs, and owners tomorrow to discuss penalties for violating COVID-19 protocols. La Canfora says in a separate piece that the league is also considering playoff bubbles.