Things are going from bad to worse for the Tennessee Titans.
One day after the NFL announced Tennessee’s Week 4 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Nissan Stadium would be postponed to Monday or Tuesday due to a COVID-19 outbreak among the Titans, the NFL was forced to reschedule the game for later in the season after the team had two more positive COVID-19 tests come back on Thursday morning.
“The decision to postpone the game was made to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel,” the NFL said in a statement. “The Titans facility will remain closed and the team will continue to have no in-person activities until further notice.”
The total number of positive COVID-19 cases in the Titans organization is now at 11 — five players and six personnel — including outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen, defensive lineman DaQuan Jones, linebacker Kamalei Correa, long snapper Beau Brinkley and practice squad tight end Tommy Hudson.
“I think (the players) were somewhat shocked,” Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said. “They wanted to play; they were preparing to play. But I think that they understood and realized why the decision was made… They’ll handle it with professionalism, with understanding and compassion toward not only ourselves and those people who have been affected but also Pittsburgh.”
The likeliest date to make up the game is Oct. 25, the Titans’ original bye week. The Steelers are scheduled to play the Ravens that week, but both teams have byes the following week and could play then. This would move Tennessee’s bye from Week 7 to 4, Pittsburgh’s from Week 8 to 4 and Baltimore’s from Week 8 to 7.
“What we’re focused on as a team right now is using these next few days like we would our normal bye week to mentally and physically prepare ourselves for the rest of the season,” Vrabel added.
Last season, the San Francisco 49ers reached the Super Bowl with a Week 4 bye. Since 2012, the NFL has scheduled at least one team with a Week 4 bye in every season except 2017 and this year.
That would mean the Titans and Steelers would play 13 straight weeks to close out the regular season. Of course, this isn’t the first time Vrabel has had a similar situation.
“I was part of a team in 2001 that after the 9/11 incident played 14 straight games and won the Super Bowl that year,” Vrabel said. “So, however many we have to play in a row, that’s what we’ll prepare for.”
Despite not having a game this week, several reports have stated the Steelers are not viewing this as a bye week and have elected to instead hold practices like they normally would have if they were playing on Sunday.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_