This week, the Tennessee Titans are facing their biggest challenge of the 2020 season up to this point. Twenty members of the organization have tested positive for COVID-19 since September 24, including 10 players who have been designated to the COVID-19/reserve list.
Of the 10 players on the list (11 if you count Isaiah Wilson who has been on the list for nearly a month), seven position groups have been affected. Both of the Titans’ interior defensive linemen – DaQuan Jones and Jeffery Simmons –have contracted the coronavirus. Cornerback Kristian Fulton and wide receiver Adam Humphries also headline the list of Titans who will be missing some time.
The 10 #Titans players currently on COVID-19 list:
CB: Fulton, Maybin
DL: Jones, Simmons
WR: Humphries, Batson
— Two-Tone Blue Nation (@TwoToneBlueNat1) October 3, 2020
The question that nobody has an answer to quite yet is the matter of how much time each player might be absent for. The NFL has COVID-19 protocols in place in order to set up a safe playing environment for everybody involved as well as to aid in slowing down the spread of this virus.
An agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association mandates that teams may not release the names of those who have tested positive for COVID-19. Rather, the COVID-19 list includes players who have tested positive as well as those who have been deemed close contacts of someone who has tested positive.
NFL protocols, which the Titans are following, determine the amount of time a player must
remain on the list. If a player tests positive for COVID-19, but does not show symptoms of the illness, the NFL requires that player to isolate for 10 days or to produce two negative tests 24 hours apart after five days since the initial positive test.
It remains a mystery as to which players are asymptomatic, but even with Khari Blasingame, who was placed on the COVID-19/reserve list on Sunday, everyone on the COVID-19/reserve list would be in line for a return in time for Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills IF, and only if, they are asymptomatic.
For the Titans’ players who tested positive and are experiencing symptoms, availability for the Bills game is very much in jeopardy. The NFL’s COVID-19 protocols state that if a player has a positive test and is symptomatic, that player must isolate for at least 10 days and 72 hours must pass since the last symptoms were experienced. In addition, a player who experienced symptoms must complete at least a three-day progressive exercise protocol administered by the team’s medical staff.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: teams will be docked draft picks or even forced to forfeit games if the league discovers COVID protocol violations that postpone or cancel games, or otherwise impact other teams.
Here's the full memo: pic.twitter.com/FAEf3gI0X2
— Ben Fischer (@BenFischerSBJ) October 5, 2020
Again, these are the minimum requirements for a return to play and we don’t yet know which players are experiencing symptoms and which are asymptomatic. However, it is fair to assume that those who have yet to experience symptoms could be ready to roll by Sunday.
On Monday, the Titans had their first day without a positive test since the outbreak began on September 24. The Titans have not been to their facility since September 28 which is a full week removed from the last time the team held practice.
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
The hope is that Tuesday’s results come back negative as well, stringing together consecutive days without a positive test. If that happens to be the case, the Titans could be looking at a Wednesday return to the facility for a somewhat normal week of practices ahead of the team’s Week 5 matchup with the Bills coming to Nashville.
Featured image via Donald Page/Tennessee Titans