New positive coronavirus test puts Titans-Bills game in jeopardy

The NFL told the team to not hold any in-person activities.

SHARE New positive coronavirus test puts Titans-Bills game in jeopardy
The Titans’ practice facility remains closed with the team enduring a COVID-19 outbreak.

The Titans’ practice facility remains closed with the team enduring a COVID-19 outbreak.

Mark Humphrey/AP

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee was told players could not gather together for any in-person activities either at the club’s facility or elsewhere a day before several Titans worked out at a private school, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The NFL closed both the Tennessee and Minnesota facilities Sept. 29 after eight positive test results for the Titans. A group of Titans, which included quarterback Ryan Tannehill, worked out at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville on Sept. 30 after getting permission from coaches at the school. 

There wasn’t language in the CBA or COVID protocols related to working out after being told not to or in case of an outbreak at a team’s facility. 

The Titans’ outbreak increased to 23 Thursday with another new positive, while an inconclusive positive result from Wednesday was confirmed as positive. The Titans’ facility remains closed with the team still prohibited from any in-person activities. 

That puts Sunday’s game with Buffalo (4-0) at risk of at least being postponed. Buffalo is scheduled to host Kansas City on Oct. 15. A scenario the NFL has been considering is moving the Bills-Titans game to Monday or Tuesday night, moving Chiefs-Bills to next weekend and not having a Thursday night game. 

The Titans (3-0) have had 21 positive tests returned since Sept. 29 with at least one positive on eight of the past 10 days, including the latest results, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because neither the NFL nor Tennessee has announced the latest results.

The NFL already postponed, then rescheduled the Titans’ game with Pittsburgh from Oct. 4 to Oct. 25.

The league’s investigation into how Tennessee turned into the league’s first COVID-19 outbreak found ”several specific incidents” of the Titans possibly breaking protocols dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, a person with knowledge of the inquiry told the AP on Wednesday. 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell warned all 32 teams Monday that following league protocols is mandatory and that violations forcing changes in the schedule could lead to being stripped of draft choices or even forfeiting games. The NFL also updated protocols on Oct. 2. 

Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said Wednesday that the league has looked into everything from video inside the Titans’ facility, interviewing everyone involved and even studied seating charts on buses and planes. 

Sills noted they wanted to learn how to improve and the NFL already has made a number of changes. 

The Patriots are missing a second straight day of practice Thursday after reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore joined quarterback Cam Newton on the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday. New England also has a defensive tackle from the practice squad on the list in the league’s other mini-outbreak.

New England coach Bill Belichick said Thursday the team closed its facility for the health and safety of the club and is continuing to prepare for Sunday’s game with Denver virtually. Whether the Patriots return to their facility Friday will be a medical decision rather than a football one, Belichick said. 

“Things are changing very quickly so or could change very quickly,. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t,” Belichick said. “We knew that at the beginning of the season that there were going to be challenges. There have been. And we’re ready to work through them. And that’s what we’re doing.”

The NFL sent new protocols to all 32 teams Oct. 1 detailing additional steps including a second daily test when dealing with an outbreak or having been exposed to an outbreak. 

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