With just six days left until the Tennessee Titans are scheduled to play the Buffalo Bills, there are still a lot of unknowns regarding the team’s COVID-19 outbreak.
As of Monday, one week has passed since the news broke that Titans outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen missed the team’s most recent game after testing positive for the virus. Since then, over a dozen combined players and staff members returned positive tests.
A lot of bad has come from this situation, beyond simply the rescheduling of the Titans’ Week Four game against the Steelers, and there will be more bad. There will also be some good, though.
Here’s what we know, so far.
Who tested positive for the virus?
While the identity of the many Titans staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 is not public knowledge, local reporters have confirmed that head coach Mike Vrabel and offensive coordinator Arthur Smith are not among them.
Because teams must place players who contract the virus on the COVID-19/Reserve list, we know which Titans players tested positive.
These are the nine Titans players who have been placed on the COVID-19/Reserve list since Monday, Sept. 28.
- DL DaQuan Jones (Placed on COVID-19 list Sept. 29, 11 days before Titans vs. Bills)
- LS Beau Brinkley (Sept. 29, 11 days)
- *TE Tommy Hudson (Sept. 29, 11 days)
- OLB Kamalei Correa (Sept. 30, 10 days)
- CB Kristian Fulton (Oct. 1, 9 days)
- WR Adam Humphries (Oct. 2, 8 days)
- *WR Cameron Batson (Oct. 2, 8 days)
- DL Jeffery Simmons (Oct. 3, 7 days)
- FB Khari Blasingame (Oct. 4, 6 days)
It’s terrible news when anyone gets the virus. The health and well-being of these players and their families is priority No. 1, and that shouldn’t even have to be said.
But there is, undeniably, an objective, football component to this as well.
While around half the players on this list either have minimal roles on the team or are on the practice squad, there are some significant losses, too.
Simmons has started the 2020 season phenomenally, wreaking plenty of havoc in both the run and pass game. Fulton, a rookie, is perhaps the only capable young corner the Titans have who isn’t injured.
Humphries and Jones also play major roles.
What’s the bad news?
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) October 4, 2020
The most notable result of the Titans’ COVID-19 outbreak is that the NFL and NFLPA launched an investigation into whether the franchise has been abiding by the virus-halting procedures required by the league.
It’s currently unclear whether the Titans’ outbreak was due to a protocol violation, but if it was, they could face heavy fines or, worse, the loss of a draft pick.
Notable quotes from ESPN’s Adam Schefter’s report on the situation included one from a source who told him, “This isn’t a failure of the protocols; it is a failure to follow the protocols,” and, “there also is a sense from sources that the Titans were not diligent about wearing masks around their training facility.”
What’s the good news?
Good news: The #Titans have zero COVID-19 positive tests today, source said, a big step toward opening their facility and playing football.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 5, 2020
There are some silver linings in all of this calamity.
For starters, the time off will potentially allow key injured players like LT Taylor Lewan and CB Adoree’ Jackson to return to action without missing any more time. The extra time to heal could end up being a blessing in disguise for the Titans.
There’s also a chance that some of the players who tested positive, especially Brinkley and Jones, end up not missing any games. It is very much within the realm of possibility for them to be cleared before Sunday’s game against Buffalo.
It’s also probably preferable for the Titans to have endured an early-season breakout of the virus as opposed to one later in the season, although not having one at all would, of course, be the ideal result.
It remains to be seen, though, when the Titans will be able to return to practice and, more importantly, playing in games. Just about everything on these lists hinges on that.
Cover image: Isaiah J. Downing / USA Today