The NFL and NFLPA are conducting an investigation into whether the Titans violated COVID-19 protocols. And until its conclusion, coach Mike Vrabel said he is reserving comment.
“With all questions that are going to relate to the review, we’ve been completely transparent with the NFL, with the NFLPA, during this entire process, and we’re going to wait for their summary before commenting further on any of those discussions,” Vrabel said Saturday, his first time talking to reporters since Tuesday. “The league and the players’ association have spoken to every (Titans) coach and every player and we’re very confident in the way that we’ve handled that. “
The Titans, dealing with the NFL’s first teamwide COVID-19 outbreak, returned no positive coronavirus tests Saturday for just the fourth time in the last 12 days, a league source confirmed to The Tennessean. However, two consecutive days of negative test results have the Titans’ scheduled 6 p.m. Tuesday kickoff against the Buffalo Bills at Nissan Stadium on track.
The source requested anonymity because no official announcement has been made.
On Saturday, the team returned to its facility for the first time since it was forced to close on Sept. 29, when the outbreak first came to light.
Among the potential violations the NFL and NFLPA are looking into: an informal workout by a group of Titans players on Sept. 30 that took place at a local school. It occurred a day after eight members of the Titans tested positive.
Montgomery Bell Academy headmaster Brad Gioia confirmed to The Tennessean on Wednesday a group of Titans worked out together at the school. A league source said the Titans on Sept. 29 were informed not to gather for in-person activities.
Asked about the possibility that the virus could have been spread during that informal gathering, Vrabel said: “I think that that’s all part of the review. And again, we’ve been completely transparent and we’ll wait for their summary before commenting.”
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill echoed Vrabel’s response, saying he would wait until the NFL and NFLPA’s review had concluded before commenting.
The game against the Bills was originally scheduled for Sunday, but that was before the Titans’ COVID-19 outbreak forced the NFL to postpone their game for a second straight week.
A total of 23 members of the Titans — 13 players, 10 personnel — have tested positive since Sept. 24.
“I think that they’re feeling OK,” Vrabel said of the infected team members. “I think that everybody is doing well. There’s been a wide range of level of symptoms but they want to (get back and) help this team.”
Vrabel said enhanced COVID-19 protocols at the team facility now include grab-and-go meals, point-of-care tests before entering the building, and masks being worn during all in-person meetings. The team also moved 30 lockers to its indoor bubble to help facilitate social distancing.
The list of Titans players who have been placed on the COVID-19/reserve list since Sept. 24 are:
- defensive lineman DaQuan Jones
- long snapper Beau Brinkley
- tight end Tommy Hudson (practice squad)
- outside linebacker Kamalei Correa
- cornerback Kristian Fulton
- cornerback Greg Mabin (practice squad)
- wide receiver Adam Humphries
- wide receiver Cam Batson (practice squad)
- defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons
- fullback Khari Blasingame
- wide receiver Corey Davis
- tight end MyCole Pruitt
- defensive back Breon Borders (practice squad)
Vrabel said he’s hopeful some of the players who were among the first to test positive will be able to return in time for Tuesday’s game. Brinkley is included in that group.
“We want to make sure that they are going through the protocol, the cardiovascular screening, before doing that,” Vrabel said. “So that’s going to be something that we’re going to have to look at, and that’ll start (Saturday) for a few of those players.”
Isaiah Wilson to return, Adoree’ Jackson still on IR
One benefit of having an unexpected open week last week was extra time for the Titans to get healthy.
Titans first-round pick Isaiah Wilson was activated off of the COVID-19/reserve list and set to return to practice, Vrabel said. Wilson, an offensive lineman who on Sept. 11 was arrested on a DUI charge, has been on the COVID-19/reserve list since Sept. 6.
Wide receiver A.J. Brown, who has missed the last two games with a bone bruise in his knee, has been listed as limited on the team’s injury report. Vrabel said Brown is still receiving treatment and will continue to be evaluated. He’s listed as questionable for the Bills game.
Despite the extra time off, Adoree’ Jackson is still dealing with a knee injury that landed him on injured reserve ahead of Week 1. Though he’s eligible to come off IR, Vrabel said the cornerback will remain there, meaning he won’t be available against the Bills.
Additionally, pracitce squad defensive back Greg Mabin was activated off of the COVID-19/reserve list. Mabin was the first player to test positive at the start of the outbreak on Sept. 24.
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