The hits keep coming for the Tennessee Titans in regard to their COVID-19 outbreak.
First, defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons — perhaps Tennessee’s best defensive player — was added to the reserve-COVID-19 list on Saturday. Then on Sunday, the team announced fullback Khari Blasingame will be placed on the COVID list on Monday, bringing the Titans total of positive cases to 20 (10 players and 10 staff).
It marks the sixth straight day Tennessee has had at least one person test positive for coronavirus. The Titans will not be allowed back in their team facility until they have two consecutive days of zero positive tests.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning that due to the high number of positive tests, the NFL and NFL Players’ Association are in Nashville investigating whether the Titans organization violated any of the league’s COVID-19 protocols.
The NFL reportedly is looking into alleged failure of some players to report symptoms and wear masks. Additionally, outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen, who was the first in the organization to test positive, is being looked at for potentially not reporting being exposed to individuals who had been exposed to COVID-19 — a league violation.
If the Titans are found to have violated NFL protocol, they could face disciplinary action in the results of fines and potentially loss of a draft pick.
Schefter reported a source close to the situation told him, "This isn't a failure of the protocols; it is a failure to follow the protocols."
If so, this contradicts what Titans head coach Mike Vrabel told reporters last Wednesday after the NFL postponed the Titans-Steelers game.
“Jon (Robinson, general manager) and I feel comfortable that since receiving the protocols in August, we’ve followed those by the letter, and that we were conscious of everything that we did,” Vrabel said. “This is a very unfortunate situation, but one that we're confident that we will be able to handle safely with the football team and the players’ best interest in mind.”
The NFL and NFLPA have been in Nashville since Friday, reviewing videos of team activities and training to try and determine how or why the outbreak started.
Bowen was the first positive test last Saturday. Then over the course of the week, defensive lineman DaQuan Jones, long snapper Beau Brinkley and practice squad tight end Tommy Hudson all tested positive on Tuesday, followed by linebacker Kamalei Correa on Wednesday, Kristian Fulton on Thursday, receivers Adam Humphries and Cameron Batson on Friday, Simmons on Saturday and Blasingame on Sunday.
As a result of the Titans COVID-19 outbreak, the NFL sent a memo to teams on Oct. 1 outlining new post-exposure COVID-19 procedures, which include wearing masks at all times — including on the field — and all meetings to be done virtually, among others.
As it stands, the earliest the Titans can get back to their team facility would be Wednesday. Of course, that would hinge on Tennessee returning no positive tests on Monday or Tuesday.
Should the Titans have any more players test positive this week, it could put their Week 5 game against the Buffalo Bills in serious jeopardy.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_