For the second day in a row, the Tennessee Titans reported zero positive COVID-19 cases after having at least one player test positive every day last week.
Now, the Titans and head coach Mike Vrabel must sit and wait to hear from the NFL as to when they will be allowed back into their practice facility, which could come as early as Wednesday.
NFL protocol requires two days of zero positive tests in order to be allowed back into team facilities, and Vrabel said he usually hears from the league around 4:30 a.m. about league news for that day.
“[We’re] hopeful, excited that we’ve been able to string together a couple really good days as far as the testing and really just getting back to where we were,” Vrabel said. “We’re hoping for some continued good news tomorrow morning and we’ll kind of see where we are with the league and hopeful to return and get back into the building safely.”
The week’s game against the Buffalo Bills, which seemed to be in jeopardy after fullback Khari Blasingame’s positive results were announced on Sunday, now appears to be on track to happen.
Vrabel did say most of the players who tested positive for COVID-19 last week — DaQuan Jones, Beau Brinkley, Tommy Hudson, Kamalei Correa, Kristian Fulton, Adam Humphries, Cameron Batson, Jeffery Simmons and Blasingame — were feeling well and appeared to be doing better.
However, the Titans aren’t expecting to have any of those players back for Sunday’s game. Vrabel did, however, sound hopeful some of the staff members — which include defensive play caller Shane Bowen — could to be back sooner.
“The most important thing is the players; without them, we don’t have a game,” he said. “But I’m hopeful that we’ll get most of the staff members back, the ones that aren’t won’t have a role in the game…But I think we are set up good to be able to handle some of these things at each position…We’re just going to prepare the team and take the 48 guys that give us the best chance to win on Sunday.”
The losses of Brinkley, Humphries, Simmons and Fulton are sizable blows to the Titans. Vrabel mentioned working with the league to potentially try out a new long snapper to replace Brinkley this week. Humphries is tied for the team lead with 15 receptions and his 136 yards receiving is third-most behind Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith.
The Titans are tied for second in the NFL in turnovers and Simmons and Fulton have two of the team’s five turnovers. Fulton also has nine tackles and a sack, while Simmons has 12 tackles, a sack, a pass defensed and three QB hits. The Titans will have to get creative to replace their production.
“We’re confident in what we have (between the practice squad and 53-man roster),” Vrabel said. “I know there will be some guys who will have to pull double duty for us…mostly the DBs will have to help us out as wide receivers, but that’s just where we’re at. We’re confident that we’ll have the right number of players at each position for the game.”
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