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Tennessee Titans, Minnesota Vikings close facilities after Titans players test positive for the coronavirus

The Tennessee Titans have closed their facilities until Saturday after three players and five team personnel members tested positive for the coronavirus, the NFL announced Tuesday.

The three players — starting nose tackle DaQuan Jones, long-snapper Beau Brinkley and practice squad tight end Tommy Hudson — have been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

While no official decision has been made about the Titans’ game Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Nashville, the NFL wants and intends to have that game played as scheduled, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

One of the contingency plans to allow for additional testing and contact tracing would be to move the game to Monday night, a source told ESPN.

The eight new positive tests for the Titans have been confirmed after additional testing, a source told ESPN’s Kevin Seifert. Those who tested positive have been asymptomatic as of Tuesday morning, a source told ESPN’s Dan Graziano.

“This is not unexpected,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote Tuesday to the chief executives and presidents for every team in a memo, which was obtained by ESPN. “There will be players and staff who will test positive during the season.”

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The Titans, citing an “abundance of caution,” issued a statement saying they halted in-person work Tuesday. The Minnesota Vikings, who played the Titans on Sunday, also have closed their facility indefinitely, though the team said there were no positive tests through Tuesday morning.

“Out of the abundance of caution, the organization has decided to work remotely today as we follow NFL protocols related to the COVID-19 virus,” the Titans’ statement said.

Although the facility is closed, players are still able to do drive-through testing.

League contact tracing identified 48 close contacts with the eight members of the Titans organization who tested positive, sources told Graziano.

The NFL issued a statement saying both the Titans and Vikings are working with the league, the NFL Players Association and medical officials “to evaluate close contacts, perform additional testing and monitor developments … with health and safety as our primary consideration.”

Team sources confirmed to ESPN that the Titans will prepare for this week’s game primarily through virtual film-study meetings.

The Steelers issued a statement saying they have been in contact with the NFL about the Titans’ positive tests, and coach Mike Tomlin on Tuesday said they are preparing to play Sunday’s game as scheduled.

“We don’t have a lot of definitive answers about long term what the prognosis looks like,” Tomlin said. “We’ve been given a mandate to prepare as if the game is going to be played and played on time. So that is our mentality. … We’ll take it day by day.

“We’ve talked openly throughout this process that 2020 is going to have its challenges. Gotta be light on our feet. Be ready to adjust and have a hard-core plan. We’re ready to live that out. We understand the uncertainty, but we’ve got to have a level of professionalism and singular focus in spite of that.”

The Vikings’ next game is Sunday at the Houston Texans.

Goodell’s memo said all players and staff who have tested positive will be isolated and monitored, and their family members will be offered testing as well.

In addition, the officiating crew that worked Sunday’s game — headed by referee Clete Blakeman — will be tested daily for COVID-19 this week and, out of an abundance of caution, will not work a game in Week 4. The NFL always has at least one crew on a bye each week.

“Each of us has a special responsibility to keep others safe and healthy,” Goodell said in the memo. “What each of us does affects not only ourselves and our immediate families, but many others on our own club and on other clubs.”

Tomlin said if the NFL deems it safe for the Steelers to travel to Nashville, “then we’re going to go down there with the intention of playing and playing to win.”

The NFL said it is “exploring in more detail” where contacts were made — “locker room, flights, etc.” — in hopes of sharing any learned information with all teams.

The Titans were without outside linebackers coach and defensive playcaller Shane Bowen for Sunday’s game against the Vikings because of the COVID-19 protocol. Bowen was placed in the protocol after getting test results back Saturday before the team left for Minnesota.

The team was already without offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson, who was placed into the COVID-19 protocol earlier this month. Coach Mike Vrabel had said he hoped Wilson could return to the practice field this week.

Jones, a defensive team captain, has started all three games this season, playing 120 snaps (61.5%) on defense primarily as a run-stopper. Brinkley has been the long-snapper in every game for the Titans since 2012.

Players who test positive for COVID-19 and remain asymptomatic can return 10 days after the test or after five days with two consecutive negative tests within a five-day period. Those who show symptoms can return 10 days after the symptoms first appear and 72 hours have passed since any symptoms have ended.

All players who test positive must be cleared by the team’s physician and undergo cardiac testing.

Teams are able to conduct contact tracing by way of a small PPE device that is worn by players and team personnel. Anyone who was in contact with those who tested positive will have additional testing available to them.

The Titans on Tuesday added running back D’Onta Foreman and defensive back Maurice Smith to their practice squad.

ESPN’s Turron Davenport, Courtney Cronin and Brooke Pryor contributed to this report.



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