NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee will not be returning to the team’s facility Wednesday after two more players tested positive amid the NFL’s first COVID-19 outbreak, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
The New England Patriots also canceled Wednesday’s practice. Quarterback Cam Newton tested positive Saturday and is on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and the Patriots placed a defensive tackle from the practice squad on that list Tuesday.
The Titans had no positive tests Monday or Tuesday for the first time after six consecutive days of positive results. A third straight day was necessary for the team to be allowed back in its headquarters.
Instead, the Titans’ outbreak now is up to 22 cases with 20 now returned since Sept. 29, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because neither the NFL nor the Titans announced the latest results.
The new positive tests put into question Tennessee’s scheduled game Sunday against Buffalo (4-0), a matchup between two of the NFL’s six remaining undefeated teams. The NFL already postponed, then rescheduled the Titans’ game with Pittsburgh from Oct. 4 to Oct. 25.
The NFL gave New England and Kansas City an extra day after Newton tested positive Saturday, and the Chiefs beat the Patriots 26-10 on Monday night. But pushing the Bills’ game with the Titans back by a day will be challenging because Buffalo is scheduled to host Kansas City on Thursday night, Oct. 15.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel told reporters Tuesday he was hoping to hear more good news Wednesday morning when the latest batch of daily testing results came back. Instead, he’ll have to try to prepare a game plan with his team possibly not back into its facility until Saturday because it needs back-to-back days of negative tests.
Tennessee hasn’t been together as a team since Sept. 27, when the Titans beat the Vikings 31-30 in Minnesota. The Titans played that game after leaving outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen in Nashville following his positive test result Sept. 26, and the NFL shut down the team facility on Sept. 29.
The franchise has continued daily testing since then, and the league sent all 32 teams a memo Oct. 1 with a list of new protocols for clubs to follow when dealing with a coronavirus outbreak or having been exposed to an outbreak. The league is attempting to play a full schedule amid the pandemic without players isolated in a bubble as other sports have done to protect players and staff from the virus. No games were affected through the first three weeks of the season.
The Las Vegas Raiders put their first player on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday — defensive tackle Maurice Hurst. He didn’t attend the charity function last week that led the NFL to fine 10 Raiders players for conduct violating COVID-19 protocols. The list is for players who either test positive for the coronavirus or have had close contact with an infected person.
Story by Teresa M. Walker.