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Broncos, Vikings have positive coronavirus tests; NFL planning to play all games this weekend

The Broncos at practice this week. (David Zalubowski/AP)

The NFL continued to grapple Friday with issues related to the novel coronavirus as the Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings each had a player test positive for the virus.

But the league was planning for all of this weekend’s games to be played as scheduled, hopes that were bolstered when the New York Giants and Los Angeles Chargers had no new positive results in the latest round of daily coronavirus testing. A group of Giants offensive linemen who had been sent home Thursday during the contact-tracing process returned to the team’s facility Friday.

The testing results and the NFL’s intention to play all the Week 8 games as scheduled Sunday and Monday, barring further positive test results, were confirmed by a person familiar with the league’s planning.

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The Chargers are scheduled to play Sunday at Denver. The Vikings play Sunday at Green Bay. The Giants are scheduled to host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night. For the NFL, this would be a third straight week with its games being played mostly as scheduled after two weeks of rampant rescheduling of games.

The NFL told teams in a memo Friday that it is studying expanding sideline areas on game days to encourage distancing measures. The league said that all players are strongly encouraged to wear masks on the sideline during games.

“We recognize that we feel like we still have vulnerability in the sideline area with players and coaches and staff during the game,” Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said in a conference call with reporters.

The Broncos confirmed the positive test by one of their players and said that two other players identified through contact tracing were quarantining Friday. The Broncos announced they decided not to practice Friday “as a precaution” and would conduct meetings virtually. The team said it planned to practice Saturday.

“Our organization, which has been operating under the league’s intensive protocols, is in consultation with the NFL and taking guidance from medical experts,” the Broncos said in a written statement.

Broncos offensive lineman Graham Glasgow reportedly tested positive.

The Vikings placed linebacker Todd Davis on their covid-19 reserve list Friday. That list is for players who test positive for the coronavirus or have been exposed to the virus.

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The Giants sent home seven of the 11 offensive linemen on their roster and a practice squad player at another position Thursday after guard Will Hernandez reportedly tested positive. All the players sent home Thursday through contact tracing rejoined the team Friday, the Giants announced. The Giants said they would hold meetings remotely Friday but would practice in person at MetLife Stadium because of wet grounds at their adjacent training facility.

Under the NFL’s two-step contact-tracing process, some players initially sent home through contact tracing can be quickly permitted to return to a team’s facility if they’re not officially designated as high-risk close contacts. Those put into the high-risk close-contact classification face a mandatory five-day quarantine, under a recent change to the NFL’s protocols.

Chargers Coach Anthony Lynn canceled Thursday’s practice after a positive test by a player. The team placed guard Ryan Groy on its covid-19 reserve list Thursday.