NASHVILLE — Over a week has passed since the Tennessee Titans (3-0) practice facility at Saint Thomas Sports Park shut down due to a COVID-19 outbreak. With two straight days of reportedly no positive tests, Mike Vrabel’s team remains on track to host the Buffalo Bills (4-0) on Sunday.
“Hopeful,” said Vrabel on his team’s ability to get back in the building this week. “Excited that we’ve been able to string together a couple of really good days, as far as the testing, and really just getting back to where we were. Hoping again for some continued good news tomorrow morning and then we’ll kind of see where we are with the league and, hopefully, get back in there safely.”
A total of 20 Tennessee players and other staff members returned positive coronavirus tests since Sept. 24. The Titans’ outbreak caused the NFL to postpone the team’s Week 4 contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0) and move both of their scheduled bye weeks to accommodate. That game was rescheduled for Oct. 25.
The question becomes how will day-to-day life at Saint Thomas Sports Park change when the building is officially reopened.
Return To Play
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell with a pointes message to clubs on COVID-19 protocols: “Simply put, compliance is mandatory.” pic.twitter.com/WY8RhtN6la
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) October 5, 2020
NFL and NFLPA representatives reportedly traveled to Nashville this weekend. The goal was to investigate whether proper COVID-19 protocols had been observed in Tennessee and whether action might need to be taken.
The Titans, as of Tuesday morning, remain under investigation.
NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell sent a memo out to the 32 franchises, calling their attention to increased scrutiny on safe COVID practices within facilities. Basic concepts such as facial coverings, hand hygiene and social distancing will be further emphasized.
When coaches and players are allowed back in the facility, it will be with several new stipulations. Goodell’s memo outlined a longer onboarding process for free agent tryouts, bans on gatherings outside of the club facility, limits on the number of tryouts permitted per week and a league-wide video monitoring system to ensure compliance with the protocols.
Who Will Be Available?
Vrabel said that everyone infected with the coronavirus was “progressing and doing well” on Tuesday. From a player perspective, Jeffery Simmons, Isaiah Wilson, Kamalei Correa, Kristian Fulton, Adam Humphries, DaQuan Jones, Beau Brinkley, Cameron Batson, Tommy Hudson, Khari Blasingame and Greg Mabin all were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Vrabel said he was hopeful that Wilson may return this week after being placed on the list on Sept. 6, though he is also scheduled to have a court date for a DUI arrest on Wednesday.
Wilson’s situation remains tenuous.
Vrabel said on his radio show Monday night on 104.5 The Zone that any of names on that list could not be counted on to play this coming Sunday when the team hosts the Bills. From a coaching staff perspective, Vrabel said he anticipated most coaches would be available.
Featured Image: George Walker IV/The Tennessean via USA TODAY NETWORK.