The New Orleans Saints had a positive COVID-19 test Saturday, according to multiple reports, putting potential doubt on a third game of Sunday’s Week 4 schedule.
According to ProFootballTalk, which first reported on the positive test, the Saints learned about the positive test late Saturday night and are in the process of contact tracing players who were in the player’s proximity.
The Saints, who are scheduled to play the Lions at 1 p.m. ET in Detroit on Sunday, are the fourth known team to have a positive COVID-19 test over the past week.
The Tennessee Titans’ Week 4 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers has been rescheduled for Week 7 as eight players and eight team personnel have tested positive since the team’s Week 3 game last Sunday.
League sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Field Yates on Saturday that New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton tested positive for COVID-19.
The Patriots’ game against the Kansas City Chiefs has been postponed from Sunday, with sources telling ESPN’s Dianna Russini that the current plan is to play the game on Monday.
Chiefs practice squad quarterback Jordan Ta’amu also tested positive, a source told ESPN, confirming an NFL Network report.
A look at what’s happening around the New York Jets:
1. The path to Trevor: At 0-4, it’s not a stretch to start speculating about the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft. Actually, the Jets have a league-high 30% chance of landing the pick, according to a projection by ESPN’s Football Power Index. It sets up a fascinating discussion:
Would Jets general manager Joe Douglas draft Clemson Tigers star Trevor Lawrence and start over at quarterback or would he trade it and use the picks to build around Sam Darnold?
Douglas has spoken highly of Darnold since taking the GM job — and it’s not lip service. In a new book by former Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick, who does a deep dive into the QB Class of 2018, Douglas is quoted as saying, “Sam Darnold was the number one QB on our board in Philly. We did not interview him but did more of a clinical evaluation.”
• Game picks from our NFL experts »
• PickCenter » | ESPN Chalk »
More NFL coverage »
The Philadelphia Eagles weren’t in the quarterback market, but Douglas, who ran their draft, did his homework on the top passers that season and rated Darnold above Baker Mayfield (Cleveland), Josh Allen (Buffalo), Josh Rosen (Tampa Bay) and Lamar Jackson (Baltimore). Douglas confided in Billick because he knows him from their time together in Baltimore.
The question is: Will Douglas have the same conviction at the end of the season? Darnold has been inconsistent, alternately flashing big-time ability with questionable decision-making and hesitancy in the pocket. The lack of infrastructure has hurt his development — blame the organization for that — and that complicates the decision if the Jets land the top pick.
Realistically, it’s hard to imagine Douglas passing on Lawrence, who is regarded by many as a generational talent. Also, as Billick noted in his book, “The Q Factor: The Elusive Search For The Next Great NFL Quarterback,” Douglas isn’t personally invested in Darnold. He didn’t draft him.
“He liked Sam Darnold [in 2018]… Will that change in the crucible of the NFL right now? That’s for Joe to decide over the next couple of months,” Billick told ESPN. “Do they make a change? Do they keep Sam Darnold and make a change in coaching? Or do they stay with the entire package and think he’s going to get better people around him?”
The legendary Bill Walsh, one of Billick’s mentors, had a philosophy about quarterbacks: If they don’t show it in the first 25 starts, they never show it. Darnold has 30 starts, with a mediocre touchdown-interception ratio (39-32).
Billick doesn’t seem that high on Darnold. In the book, which covers the 2018 and 2019 seasons, he says Darnold “doesn’t seem to do anything special.” After watching three games this season, Billick said Darnold is “kind of stuck in neutral.” And the sense I get is he doesn’t believe coach Adam Gase can bring the best out of Darnold.
If the Jets keep losing, it’ll be up to Billick’s old friend from Baltimore to make a franchise-altering decision.
2. Did you know? If the Jets give up on Darnold three years after drafting him, it would be the second-quickest hook in history, so to speak — the time between picking a first-round quarterback after taking one in the top five. The old Baltimore Colts did it in 1982-83, with Art Schlichter and John Elway, respectively. The Arizona Cardinals did something similar in 2018-19 with Rosen and Kyler Murray, but Rosen was the 10th overall pick.
3. 0-16? They Jets fell to the previously winless Denver Broncos, which begs the question: Whom can they beat? They’re not favored to win any of their remaining games, according to a projection by ESPN’s FPI. The Jets’ best chance is a 44% probability to win their Week 12 home game against the Miami Dolphins — Gase Bowl IV. If you really, really must know, the Jets have a league-high 1.7% chance of losing out.
4. Roughing it: Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams received a lot of well-deserved praise for the work he did last season. This season, it looks like he’s out of answers. He’s afraid to blitz because he doesn’t trust his cornerbacks, so he’s playing more zone than usual. If you play zone, the players have to tackle — and the Jets are having serious issues in that department. The most disturbing trend, though, is the lack of discipline.
The defense was charged with eight accepted penalties in the Jets’ loss Thursday night, the most by a team this season. The previous high was seven … set by the Jets in Week 1. The Jets already have been flagged for seven roughing-the-passer penalties, four more than the next team.
They haven’t ignored the problem. After the second game, when defensive end Henry Anderson got flagged, the entire team was shown cut-ups of every roughing penalty in the league. Gase has made it a point of emphasis, and he said Williams followed up in defensive meetings.
But it continues to happen. Williams likes to say he preaches two tempos — walk-through and “go.” Seems that his players surpass “go” too many times.
Without collecting $200 (old Monopoly joke).
5. Closer look: Gase caught some flak for calling a wheel route to running back Frank Gore on a third-and-4 from the Denver 14 — incomplete. Actually, that wasn’t the call. Darnold was supposed to look for wide receiver Chris Hogan, who was wide open over the middle at the 10. It would have been an easy first down. At times, Darnold still doesn’t see the field as well as he should.
Damien Woody is fed up with the New York football scene as both the Jets and Giants are winless to start the season.
6. Trash-to-treasure: Douglas’ first priority in the offseason was to rip apart the offensive line, which was a mess last season due to ineffectiveness and injuries. All five opening-day starters are gone — one in retirement (Ryan Kalil) and four scattered across the league.
Don’t look now, but those four are starting for winning teams:
Tackle Kelvin Beachum, Cardinals (2-1).
Guard Kelechi Osemele, Kansas City Chiefs (3-0).
Tackle Brandon Shell, Seattle Seahawks (3-0).
Guard Brian Winters, Buffalo Bills (3-0).
I’m not second-guessing Douglas’ plan; anybody who watched the Jets last season could see they absolutely needed an overhaul. But this highlights the importance of scheme fit, coaching and culture. You know the old saying: One team’s trash is another team’s treasure. Successful organizations have a way of finding those treasures.
7. Big hurt: The latest suspicious injury situation involves left tackle Mekhi Becton, who has a capsule injury in his left shoulder, a source said. He wasn’t supposed to play Thursday night but was inserted when Chuma Edoga went down after four plays. Gase said there was no risk for further injury, that it was a pain-tolerance issue. Why take the chance with your best young player? Why take the chance with any player?
Under Gase, the Jets have had a handful of controversial injuries — Osemele, linebacker Avery Williamson and running back Le’Veon Bell, to name three. Gase accepted culpability for the latter two. How he handles Darnold’s shoulder injury will be watched, no doubt.
8. What spending freeze? A few months ago, the buzz around the league was how teams were reluctant to spend big money because of salary-cap uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This factored into the Jets’ thinking for not wanting to give safety Jamal Adams a long-term extension — or so they claimed.
As it turned out, it hasn’t stopped the spending.
Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey became the sixth first-round pick from Adams’ 2017 draft class to sign an extension. The others are Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White.
Teams usually find a way to keep their best players.
9. The last word: “Fracturing is not an option” — Gase on what he told the team the day after its crushing loss to Denver.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon, added to the injury report Saturday with a chest injury that left him questionable, is expected to play Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Mixon has played in 31 straight games. His last absence came in Week 4 of the 2018 season in a road game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Like the Bengals, the fourth-year running back out of Oklahoma is off to a slow start to the season. Mixon has 52 carries for 164 yards and has yet to score a touchdown. The Bengals are last in the league in yards per play and 31st in yards per rushing attempt.
Of the running backs on Cincinnati’s roster, Mixon and Giovani Bernard have taken all but one offensive snap through the team’s first three games. Bernard has two carries but is third on the team in receiving with 12 catches for 98 yards.
Information from ESPN’s Ben Baby was used in this report.
Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson, listed as questionable for Sunday’s game, is expected to start against the Miami Dolphins, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Carson suffered what coach Pete Carroll called a first-degree knee strain following a gator-roll tackle by Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Trysten Hill in last week’s game, for which Hill was fined $6,522.
Carson was a full participant in practice Friday after limited participation the previous two days.
Carroll told Seattle’s KIRO Radio 97.3 FM on Friday that Carson “was able to really show us that he was ready.”
“He did fine,” Carroll said of Carson in his Friday afternoon news conference. “We’ve got him listed as questionable. He was on the ground after a play last week, so we’ve got to make sure that he’s OK, but he had a good solid week and we’ll go all the way to game time to make sure that he feels really confident and all. But he looks good, and he took plays yesterday and today.”
Carlos Hyde, Carson’s primary backup, was limited all week and wore a red no-contact jersey as Seattle tried to protect his sore shoulder. Hyde, also listed as questionable for Sunday’s game, will be a pregame decision.
Information from ESPN’s Brady Henderson was used in this report.
1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 50.5 | Spread: TB -7.5 (44.5)
What to watch for: The 22-year-old Justin Herbert and the 43-year-old Tom Brady face off in what will be the first game since at least 1950 that two opposing quarterbacks have a 20-year age gap. But this is really about a Bucs’ pass-rush that has 12 sacks through the first three games of the season — its best mark since 2013 — against a rookie quarterback who’s handling the blitz remarkably well. How will Herbert fare with offensive linemen Bryan Bulaga and Trai Turner both battling injuries? — Jenna Laine
Bold prediction: Herbert will have his best day of his young career as an NFL quarterback, throwing for more than 400 yards. The Chargers will regroup and reload on defense, too, leading to a big victory on the road. — Shelley Smith
Stat to know: Herbert is just the third player in NFL history to pass for 300-plus yards in each of his first two career games, joining Kyler Murray and Cam Newton. Brady, however, now has eight consecutive games with under 300 passing yards.
Injuries: Chargers | Buccaneers
What to know for fantasy: Chargers running back Austin Ekeler has five career games with 20 touches, and three have come this season. See Week 4 rankings.
Betting nugget: Brady has won eight straight meetings against the Chargers, going 7-1 ATS in that span. Read more.
Smith’s pick: Chargers 34, Buccaneers 27
Laine’s pick: Buccaneers 28, Chargers 13
FPI prediction: TB, 78.4% (by an average of 10.9 points)
Matchup must-reads: Keys to Chargers turnaround? ‘Eliminating the stupid and the turnovers’ … WR Godwin likely out vs. Chargers; Week 6 return possible … What’s going right for the Bucs’ suddenly potent pass rush? … Gronk on Brady: Hard to believe he’s 43 years old
4:05 p.m. ET | FOX
Matchup rating: 47.3 | Spread: LAR -13 (47)
What to watch for: The Giants are really struggling amid an 0-3 start, scoring an average of only 12.3 points per game. The Rams offense, however, is finding its stride behind quarterback Jared Goff and is unlikely to slow down against a defense that’s allowing 26.3 points per game. Watch for the Rams’ running game to get moving behind Darrell Henderson Jr. and for Goff to establish early connections with a plethora of targets with Giants defensive back Jabrill Peppers unlikely to play because of an ankle injury. — Lindsey Thiry
Bold prediction: Aaron Donald produces double-digit QB pressures. He’s done it before (Week 1 against the Cowboys), so why not again against this Giants offensive line which allowed seven to Bud Dupree in Week 1 and seven to Khalil Mack in Week 2? Donald versus Nick Gates, who was moved to center this season, is a massive mismatch. — Jordan Raanan
Stat to know: The Giants have an NFL-worst 170 rushing yards this season, the fifth-least total though three games in franchise history. On the other side of the field, the Rams’ Henderson is coming off a career-high 114 rushing yards last week, and Los Angeles has six TDs on the ground this season (only the Patriots have more this season with seven).
Injuries: Giants | Rams
What to know for fantasy: Henderson is averaging 6.1 yards per carry over the past two weeks with a rushing score in both of those games. See Week 4 rankings.
Betting nugget: Three of the last four times New York has been a double-digit underdog, it won the game outright, dating back to its Super Bowl XLII win over New England. Read more.
Raanan’s pick: Rams 31, Giants 20
Thiry’s pick: Rams 35, Giants 14
FPI prediction: LAR, 84.8% (by an average of 14.2 points)
Matchup must-reads: Giants preach optimism, but they’re not close to being a good team … The Rams extended Ramsey, Kupp and Woods: Now what? … Projected 2021 NFL draft order: Giants, Jets take over as favorites for No. 1 pick … Rams decry costly pass interference call that led to Bills’ go-ahead TD
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The NFL knew it would likely have to deal with the coronavirus pandemic at some point when it proceeded with the 2020 season.
“At the end of the day, the safest teams and the healthiest team this year is going to be the one that’s going to be playing in January and February. We can only control what we can control,” Tennessee Titans safety Kevin Byard said in August.
The Titans became the first NFL team to experience a COVID-19 outbreak. The number of positive tests is now up to 18, and the Titans’ game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, originally scheduled for Sunday, has been postponed. The Titans maintain that they have adhered to NFL/NFLPA protocols and procedures.
Contact tracing was initiated as soon as positive tests were received, according to Titans coach Mike Vrabel. Players and select team employees wear a proximity recording device that tracks interaction with others who wear the device. Anyone who was in close proximity to a person who tests positive is subjected to multiple tests. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the coronavirus has an incubation period that can last up to 14 days. An infected person can be contagious up to 72 hours before they even begin showing symptoms.
While the Titans were the first team to be affected, they weren’t the last. Here is a timeline of how everything unfolded for the Titans and the NFL leading up to Saturday’s decision to postpone the New England Patriots-Kansas City Chiefs game as well.
Sept. 24: Titans defensive back Greg Mabin tests positive. Mabin was removed from the team facility after receiving a positive test, according to Vrabel. He was placed immediately into the protocol.
Added Vrabel: “When he tested positive, he was removed from the building. He was quarantined, and those individuals that were close contacts with him were also retested and went through their protocol as well.”
The Titans signed Mabin to their practice squad on Sept. 21 to add depth. There are new procedures for bringing in a free agent due to the pandemic.
“When you try players out, they go through a process of testing and quarantine before you work them out, and then when you work them out, you decide to sign them or not, and then they’re into the testing protocol,” Vrabel said Thursday. “At that point in time, when he tested positive, we went through and followed the protocol and he was removed from the facility.”
Sept. 26: Titans outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen tests positive. The Titans received Bowen’s positive test last Saturday morning. Bowen didn’t make the trip to Minnesota when the Titans played the Vikings.
“When we get the results early in the morning, Todd [Toriscelli, director of sports medicine] and his staff and Adrian [Dixon, assistant athletic trainer] begin the contact tracing. They do the follow-up testing and then we proceed from there with the protocol as it relates to any of the positives that would come up,” Vrabel said Thursday. “There’s a POC test which happens, and we’re very confident that we’ve followed the guidelines with the protocol that the league and the players’ association have set forth as it relates to identifying those persons of close contact and by using the tracing devices.”
Sept. 27: Titans play the Vikings in Minnesota. The Titans defeated the Vikings with Vrabel calling the defensive plays in place of Bowen, who did it for the first two games.
No Vikings have tested positive since the Titans game.
Sept. 28: News breaks of Bowen’s positive test. Vrabel confirmed that Bowen had a positive test and didn’t make the trip to Minnesota. He said that Bowen wasn’t with the team and that the Titans had followed NFL/NFLPA procedures.
“I’d say we’ve followed all the protocols as it relates to COVID,” Vrabel said. “We’re following the hundred memos that they’ve sent out verbatim.”
Titans’ positive tests: one player, one team personnel member
Sept. 29: Titans have eight more positive tests. The Titans received new positive tests from three players and five staff members. They placed defensive lineman DaQuan Jones, long-snapper Beau Brinkley and practice squad tight end Tommy Hudson on the reserve/COVID list.
All in-person activities at the Titans’ facility were suspended, but the Week 4 game in Nashville against the Pittsburgh Steelers had not yet been impacted.
“We’ve been given a mandate to prepare as if the game is going to be played and played on time,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.
The Vikings received news of the additional positive tests and closed their facility along with putting a halt to all in-person activities.
Titans’ positive tests: four players, six team personnel members
Sept. 30: Another Titan tests positive. Outside linebacker Kamalei Correa was placed on the reserve/COVID list. Vrabel was preparing the team to play as early as Monday. According to Vrabel, the players who were in need of treatment were able to enter the facility to see the athletic training staff. Anyone who entered the building was required to wear a mask at all times.
Vrabel also said that some of the players who tested positive were experiencing flu-like symptoms but that he anticipated that “they will feel better shortly.”
Minnesota reopened its facility with enhanced protocols. ESPN Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin reported that everyone entering the building had to have a negative PCR test and a negative point of care test (nasal swab with results available in 20 minutes).
Titans’ positive tests: five players, six team personnel members
Dianna Russini shares the latest on Cam Newton testing positive for COVID-19 and what that means for the Patriots.
Oct. 1: Two more Titans test positive; NFL postpones Steelers vs. Titans. The Titans placed cornerback Kristian Fulton on the reserve/COVID list. An additional unnamed team personnel member also tested positive.
According to a statement, the NFL’s decision to move the game to a later date was made “to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel.”
Vrabel told the media the Titans were “very confident that we’ve followed the guidelines with the protocol that the league and the players’ association have set forth.” The Titans’ facility remained closed. All players, coaches and select team members continued testing while the team was on its bye week as a result of the postponement.
Vrabel delivered news of the postponement to the Titans during a virtual team meeting at 8:30 a.m. The Titans turned their attention to their Week 5 opponent, the Buffalo Bills.
“We had a squad meeting to inform the team that, in light of the two recent positive tests that we had, the NFL had made the smart and safe decision to postpone our game, and that we would be on a bye week starting now,” Vrabel said. “[We] reminded them to not gather with each other, players and staff, until we can find a safe way to enter in back to our building … hopefully which would happen Monday or Tuesday, [and] we would then [begin] preparation against Buffalo.”
The NFL also issued a memo with enhanced protocols for teams to follow after exposure to the coronavirus — including two daily tests. PPE and face masks must be worn by all players and coaches on the practice field, and gloves must be worn by everyone except quarterbacks on their throwing hand. All meetings must be virtual, and there will also be daily deep cleanings of the facility. The protocols also prohibit team or player gatherings away from the facility.
Titans’ positive tests: six players, seven team personnel members
Oct 2: Two more Titans test positive; NFL reschedules Steelers vs. Titans for Week 7. The Titans placed wide receivers Adam Humphries and Cam Batson on the reserve/COVID list.
— Brian McCarthy (@NFLprguy) October 3, 2020
Both the Titans and the Steelers now have Week 4 as their bye week. Officials from the NFL and NFLPA visit Nashville to look into the outbreak further.
The NFL released another memo, this time outlining procedures during the bye week and “testing cadence.” The statement reminds players there is a $50,000 fine for missing a test. A second missed test results in a one-game suspension.
Any player who misses a daily test without authorization during the bye week must have five negative PCR tests (taken 24 hours apart) before reentering a team facility.
Titans’ positive tests: eight players, seven team personnel members
Oct. 3: Multiple NFL positive tests. The Titans received another positive test for a player — defensive end Jeffery Simmons, their 2019 first-rounder — and two for team personnel members.
News broke that New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton had tested positive on Saturday morning. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that, per a source, the Patriots did mass testing and retesting and there was no immediate spread.
Schefter also reported that Sunday’s Patriots vs. Chiefs game would likely be moved to Tuesday.
Chiefs practice squad quarterback Jordan Ta’amu also tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a source.
Titans’ positive tests: nine players, nine team personnel members
The Philadelphia Eagles head across the country to take on the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night (8:20 ET, NBC). It is the Eagles’ first trip by plane this season, and it comes at a time when the NFL is dealing with its first coronavirus outbreak that has affected the playing of a game.
The Week 4 matchup between the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers has been postponed after seven Titans players and six team personnel members tested positive this week.
Eagles tight end Zach Ertz called the situation in Tennessee “kind of a wake-up call for the rest of the NFL.” Coach Doug Pederson said he has to “overcommunicate the protocols that have been in place” while making sure he and the team stay diligent.
• Game picks from our NFL experts »
• PickCenter » | ESPN Chalk »
More NFL coverage »
“We are taking this long trip. We’re basically bottling up our bubble and putting it on an airplane and taking it across the country,” Pederson said.
How can a team stay in its bubble while moving the operation 2,800 miles from the East Coast to the West?
The Eagles gave ESPN an insider’s look into all that goes into such a journey during the pandemic with help from Dan Ryan, the director of team travel and football logistics, who works closely with all areas of football operations to help ensure the trip runs smoothly.
A different flying experience
The Eagles have packed more than 300 individual bottles of hand sanitizer, 300 pairs of gloves, 600 masks and 3,000 sanitizing wipes — and that is just for in-travel use.
They have plane-specific masks that they will switch out of once the Eagles arrive at the hotel. Every time the team completes a move, they’ll change out their masks to keep everything as sanitized as possible.
The Eagles are still using one airplane, but the travel party has been reduced, allowing for proper spacing for the cross-country jaunt. They are traveling with 139 passengers each week as opposed to 170-plus in a non-pandemic season. In a typical season, that contingent consisted of 53 players, 97 coaches and staff, and sometimes guests (corporate clients, season-ticket members, etc.). This season, the Eagles have more players (53 on the active roster and 16 on the practice squad) and have limited coaches and staff to 70. With less staff on the road, each department has to pull together to help one another out.
Besides normal social distancing measures, the Eagles have also strategically assigned plane seats to spread out position groups and departments as a precaution, should there be an infection.
Making the hotel their own
The Eagles will lock down entire floors of a hotel for each road trip. Security will be placed on those floors to ensure nobody outside of their traveling party mistakenly accesses those areas.
The number of floors depends on the hotel. This weekend, the Eagles are utilizing seven floors of sleeping rooms as well as the hotel’s full meeting space.
According to NFL/NFLPA team travel protocol, hotel staff must refrain from cleaning the interior of rooms assigned to members of the traveling party for the duration of the stay, unless the stay is longer than one night, in which case cleaning may occur when members of the traveling party are not present.
The goal is to keep all interactions solely between the members of the travel party.
Eating food and keeping safe
When you have close to 70 football players on the road for a couple of days, food is a big consideration.
First, the Eagles’ team chefs will feed the players and staff before they take off, to maximize mask-wearing while on board the airplane to California.
They’ll also have two members of their nutrition staff as part of the traveling committee to assist and ensure quality control. The Eagles will work closely with the hotel staff to make sure the practices used when prepping or serving food to the team are in accordance with the NFL’s protocols.
All meals are served in the team’s private meal room in the meeting space at the hotel. The staff preparing and packaging the meals will work exclusively with the team during the stay. Those meal options are a combination of prepackaged items and items being served in a to-go format by attendants who have been screened and are wearing personal protective equipment (masks, face shields, gloves, hairnets, sneeze guards, etc.). The Eagles will also set up stanchions to keep players and staff distanced from any food or hotel staff while in the meal room.
The goal is to make the dining experience as safe as it would feel at the Eagles’ practice facility by implementing many of the same methods and procedures while in San Francisco.
Testing for coronavirus
The number of tests administered during the week does not change in advance of an away game. All players, coaches and staff are tested Monday through Saturday within the league’s protocols. If there are 139 passengers, and they’re each tested daily for six days, that would mean 834 COVID-19 tests are being administered between the previous game and Saturday’s flight.
Per the NFL/NFLPA travel protocol, each member of the traveling party is subject to daily temperature screens and symptom checks while traveling and mandatory hand cleaning when entering the team hotel, club facilities, planes, buses and other shared facilities.
And they’re off
The Eagles’ flight to San Francisco is set to depart at 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday. While that is on par with when they might take off in a normal season, the schedule has been adjusted so more meetings are held at the team facility prior to departure in order to have fewer gatherings at the hotel.
They will use six buses to get the team to the airport and to the game and back. That’s about the typical number, but with fewer staffers traveling, everyone can spread out more. They will hop on the buses and head right to the airport after the game, arriving back in Philadelphia before dawn Monday morning.
If all goes according to plan, the only time the bubble will be broken is during the game itself against the 49ers, who have theoretically been in a bubble of their own.
“I know that they’re going to try to keep us safe as best they can,” Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said. “And we’re going to make sure that we have a safe trip there and back.”
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The San Francisco 49ers officially welcomed wide receiver Deebo Samuel back to the roster on Saturday, though his return is countered by a pair of players heading to injured reserve.
The Niners announced Saturday that Samuel has been activated from the injured reserve list after recovering from a Jones fracture in his left foot. To make room for Samuel on the 53-man roster, the 49ers placed defensive end Dee Ford (back) and tight end Jordan Reed (sprained knee) on short-term injured reserve. The team also promoted running back JaMycal Hasty from the practice squad to fill the other open spot on the roster.
Samuel returned to practice this week after spending the first three games on injured reserve. Coach Kyle Shanahan said early in the week that he wanted to see Samuel get through the team’s three practices without issue before activating him to play against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Satisfied by Samuel’s work in practice, Shanahan said Friday that Samuel would be available on Sunday night. Still, Samuel won’t have his usual workload.
“It is his first time back; we have got to be smart with that,” Shanahan said Friday. “I know he’ll be out there, but it won’t be his normal role, that’s for sure.”
Reed and Ford become just the latest names in an ever-growing list of 49ers to land on injured reserve. Although Samuel is back, Reed and Ford join cornerback Richard Sherman (calf), running back Tevin Coleman (knee) and receiver Richie James Jr. (hamstring) on short-term IR. Defensive end Nick Bosa, defensive tackle Solomon Thomas and receiver Jalen Hurd are on long-term IR with torn ACLs.
Although players on short-term IR can return after three weeks, Shanahan said Monday that Reed was likely to miss six to eight weeks. Of more concern is Ford, who has been dealing with back spasms since the days after the season opener against Arizona.
The 49ers had held out hope that rest would get Ford back to full strength, but it hasn’t happened. Shanahan was asked Friday whether Ford’s back issues had led to a conversation about retirement.
“It’s not being discussed, and I don’t want to say anything strong that people blow up, but it’s similar to what I said a couple of weeks ago,” Shanahan said. “When you’re dealing with the back and things like that, everything’s a concern. Also, that stuff does loosen up just randomly, too. That’s why we’re playing it slow. I just saw him here a little bit in the hallway on my way here. I think he’s doing better than he was a couple of weeks ago, that’s for sure. But, it’s something we’ve just got to be smart with and you can’t risk things when you’re dealing with that part of the body. So, I wouldn’t get to saying all that stuff, but that’s why we’re being cautious with it.”
In addition to Samuel and Hasty, the 49ers also activated cornerback Jamar Taylor and linebacker Joe Walker from the practice squad for Sunday’s game against the Eagles. Taylor offers insurance with K’Waun Williams questionable because of a hip injury, and Walker provides depth with linebacker Dre Greenlaw out because of a bruised quadriceps.
FRISCO, Texas — Dallas Cowboys right tackle La’el Collins will miss the rest of the season after he undergoes hip surgery that is scheduled for Wednesday, sources told ESPN on Saturday.
Collins opened the season on injured reserve and could have returned to action this week, but coach Mike McCarthy said Collins was a “ways off.”
“He’s obviously dealing with something that’s significant,” McCarthy said.
Collins did not practice much during training camp because of the hip. He was in a car accident in training camp, but that did not contribute to the injury. He was placed on injured reserve at the start of the season with the hope he could return early in the season, but after rest and rehab, the injury did not improve.
Collins started 47 of 48 games since moving to right tackle in 2017 and was coming off his best season in 2019. The Cowboys signed Collins to a five-year, $50 million extension last year that included $35 million guaranteed.
Undrafted rookie Terence Steele has started the first three games at right tackle, beating out veteran Cameron Erving for the spot. Erving suffered a knee injury in the season opener and is on injured reserve.
With left tackle Tyron Smith, who has been out the past two games with a neck injury, expected to return Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, the Cowboys could use Brandon Knight at right tackle if Steele struggles. Last week at Seattle, Steele left the game because of a stomach bug, which forced the Cowboys to move right guard Zack Martin to tackle and center Joe Looney to right guard, with rookie Tyler Biadasz taking over at center.
The Cowboys have looked for veteran help since Collins went on injured reserve. They made an offer to veteran Jared Veldheer, but he opted to retire. The Cowboys signed Jordan Mills, who has started 84 games in seven seasons, to the practice squad last week.