Six other games had to be rescheduled to accommodate the postponement because the Broncos had been scheduled to face the Miami Dolphins next Sunday. The NFL also announced that the Buffalo Bills’ game against the Kansas City Chiefs will be played Oct. 19 instead of Thursday night. That’s because the Bills are scheduled to play the Titans on Tuesday night in Nashville. That game was postponed from Sunday in a previous round of juggling of the schedule.
The Titans announced later Sunday that they held an outdoor practice for 1 hour 45 minutes with limited staff on hand, with permission from the league.
The eight newly rescheduled games allowed the NFL to avoid adding a Week 18 to the regular season to accommodate rescheduled games. But that contingency, which the NFL has discussed, could become necessary if games cannot be played once teams’ bye weeks have passed. Otherwise, the league’s only options would be forfeits or game cancellations, resulting in some teams not playing all 16 regular season games.
The Titans and Patriots had reopened their facilities Saturday. For the Titans, that came after an 11-day shutdown. They had gone two straight days without a positive coronavirus test result. But they announced Sunday morning that a staff member tested positive.
“We have temporarily closed our facility and are in communication with the league on the next steps,” the Titans said in a written statement.
Since Sept. 24, the Titans have had 24 members of the organization test positive, including 13 players. They had 21 members of the organization, including a dozen players, test positive during the previous 11-day shutdown.
“That’s just the situation we’re in,” Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill said in a video news conference Saturday. “We didn’t choose this. But we’re living in the middle of a pandemic, and this came up.”
Tannehill said Saturday the Titans’ experience had been “a roller coaster, for sure.” He also said that he had “lost some faith in the testing system” put in place by the league and the NFL Players Association.
“I just believe that if anybody went into the season thinking that there weren’t going to be a couple positive tests or an outbreak somewhere [among] all 32 teams, I think that was kind of foolish to think,” Titans safety Kevin Byard said in a video news conference Saturday. “Obviously we wasn’t trying to be the team that had the outbreak. We’re not trying to get covid-19.”
Coach Mike Vrabel said Saturday that the Titans had moved 30 lockers to their indoor practice facility, among other steps, to comply with distancing measures in the enhanced protocols to which they now are subjected.
The NFL and the NFLPA are reviewing the Titans’ outbreak, and the team could face disciplinary measures by the league if it is found to have violated protocols. Vrabel and players said Saturday the team had been transparent during the review but declined to discuss details of off-site workouts reportedly conducted by some Titans players during the shutdown of the team’s facility, which would be a violation of the protocols.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a memo to teams Monday that violations necessitating schedule changes or affecting other teams could result in game forfeits or the loss of draft picks.
The Patriots’ positive test and closure of their facility Sunday morning were confirmed by a person familiar with the situation. The Patriots had returned to their facility Saturday after three days of working remotely. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore confirmed Wednesday via social media that he tested positive for the coronavirus. That came after quarterback Cam Newton tested positive last weekend. A person familiar with the testing result confirmed Newton’s positive test Oct. 3. The Patriots announced that day that they received a positive test result the previous night, without identifying the player.
The Patriots lost at Kansas City last Monday night in a rescheduled game.
“One thing we’ve learned this year is that we all have to be able to adapt to changes and adjustments and make adjustments,” Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said in a video news conference Saturday morning. “So that’s what we’re going to do. … We’re literally taking this, I wouldn’t even say day-by-day. It’s more hour-by-hour.”
Patriots veteran defensive back Jason McCourty questioned Saturday whether the NFL and NFLPA are prioritizing player safety, citing the Patriots’ trip to Kansas City to play last Monday’s game.
In the latest schedule reshuffling, the Broncos-Dolphins game was moved from next Sunday’s Week 6 to Week 11. Also, Dolphins-New York Jets was moved from Week 10 to Week 6; Jets-Los Angeles Chargers was moved from Week 6 to Week 11; Chargers-Jacksonville Jaguars was moved from Week 8 to Week 7; Chargers-Broncos was moved from Week 11 to Week 8; and Chargers-Dolphins was moved from Week 7 to Week 10.