One Titans player tested positive for the coronavirus in testing results returned Wednesday morning, according to the NFL. That new positive result came in addition to the eight confirmed positive test results for the Titans — three players and five other members of the organization — returned Tuesday, constituting the first outbreak on an NFL team this season.
The league regarded Wednesday’s one positive test as an encouraging development and a signal that, without a wider spread of the virus among the Titans, the league probably would be able to proceed with playing the Titans-Steelers game in Week 4 rather than moving it to later in the season. The testing results returned Wednesday came from tests performed Tuesday.
“We are preparing to play the football game now as earliest as Monday. … I’m confident that the league will allow us time to practice, to get some practice in, to get on the field and then move forward with the game,” Titans Coach Mike Vrabel said in a video news conference Wednesday.
Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin told reporters Wednesday there is “a strong possibility” the game will be played Monday night.
The NFL had teams hold their offseason programs entirely virtually, without on-field practices. The training camp work schedule was modified, and preseason games were eliminated. But this was the first adjustment to the regular season schedule after three weeks of games being played on time.
The Titans and Minnesota Vikings, who played each other Sunday in Minneapolis, shut down their facilities and suspended in-person team activities Tuesday after the eight positive tests by the Titans. The Vikings have had no positive test results since Sunday’s game and announced Wednesday that they will reopen their facility Thursday.
Vrabel said reports that the Titans won’t be permitted back into their facility until Saturday were not accurate. It could be then, he said, or it could be sooner or later. According to Vrabel, Titans players needing medical treatment were allowed into the facility Wednesday, a few at a time. The league’s decision to postpone the game could give the Titans some time on the practice field.
“I think we’ll be able to practice. … We’re not going to use that as any sort of excuse going in,” Vrabel said. “We’ll be ready. We’ll be focused. … We’re going to just proceed with how we have to do things, and this is the way we have to function and operate.”
The Titans participated in their daily coronavirus testing Wednesday, Vrabel said, then went home to conduct team meetings remotely.
Players were given a break between virtual sessions, and Vrabel said: “Some will get treatment. Some will hopefully work out. Some will eat lunch. Some will watch soap operas. I don’t know. But we have to hold each other accountable, I think, to do some sort of physical activity and be ready to go."
Vrabel said that some of the members of the Titans organization who tested positive this week were “experiencing flu-like symptoms” but “nothing, I think, out of the ordinary.” He said he “would have liked to have heard from the league about how those individuals were feeling.” Vrabel said he is not among the five non-players in the organization to have tested positive this week but declined to specify whether any of his assistant coaches are in that group.
The coach said that “nobody is to blame” for the team’s series of positive tests.
“We’re in a pandemic,” Vrabel said. “Unfortunately, things happen.”
The Titans announced Wednesday they added linebacker Kamalei Correa to their covid-19 reserve list. On Tuesday, they placed defensive lineman DaQuan Jones, long snapper Beau Brinkley and practice squad tight end Tommy Hudson on the list, which can be utilized for players who test positive or for those found through contact-tracing methods to have been exposed to the virus.
“Obviously we didn’t choose to be in this situation,” Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill said in a video news conference Wednesday. “But it’s the hand we’re dealt. I think we have mentally strong guys who are up for the task at hand. We have to be able to prepare for a game in an unusual situation, doing it virtually, not getting the practice reps that we’re used to. But at the end of the day, we have to get ourselves ready to go play a game and go play well against a really good team.”
The league continues to plan for the Vikings-Texans game to be played as scheduled Sunday in Houston. The NFL confirmed that the Vikings had no positive tests in the results returned Wednesday from tests performed Tuesday.