By Teresa M. Walker The Associated Press
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Titans have had their second straight day without positive coronavirus tests, allowing them to potentially reopen their facility Wednesday after the NFL’s first COVID-19 outbreak, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
The Titans had no positive tests Monday or Tuesday, and Tennessee needs that to continue Wednesday to be able to go back to its facility, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Tuesday because neither the NFL nor the Titans announced the latest results.
Tennessee announced that coach Mike Vrabel would talk to reporters midday Tuesday. The Titans (3-0) are scheduled to host Buffalo (4-0) on Sunday in a matchup of two of the NFL’s remaining six undefeated teams.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell warned the league’s 32 teams Monday of penalties including potential forfeits of games for violations of COVID-19 protocols that force changes in the schedule.
The league already postponed, then rescheduled Tennessee’s game with Pittsburgh from Oct. 4 to Oct. 25. The Patriots and Chiefs had been scheduled to play Sunday before positive tests for New England quarterback Cam Newton and a Kansas City practice squad player pushed that game to Monday night. Kansas City won 26-10.
The NFL now is requiring a longer onboarding process for free agent tryouts, banning gatherings outside of the club facility, limiting the number of tryouts permitted per week and implementing a league-wide video monitoring system to ensure compliance.
The league also is considering holding all meetings virtually; requiring masks or shields during practices and walk-throughs; decreasing the size of the travelling party to games; reducing the time spent in lunchrooms and locker rooms; and daily consulting of proximity tracking device information now in use to identify areas where teams could eliminate close contacts.
“As we have said before,” Goodell wrote in a memo obtained by the AP, “act as if every person you come in contact with has a COVID infection and take appropriate precautions.”
Tennessee has continued daily testing since the NFL told the Titans to close their facility on Sept. 29. The Vikings also closed their building after losing 31-30 to Tennessee on Sept. 27, but Minnesota went back to its facility Oct. 1. The Vikings have not had a positive test result since playing the Titans.
When the Titans return, they’ll be working under new protocols the NFL sent Oct. 1 for clubs to follow when dealing with an outbreak or having been exposed to the virus. All meetings will be virtual, and everyone must wear face coverings and gloves at practice.
The Titans’ outbreak reached 20 cases on Sunday, the team’s sixth straight day of at least one positive, with 18 returned since Sept. 29. The players testing positive include defensive captain DaQuan Jones, defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons, wide receiver Adam Humphries, rookie cornerback Kristian Fulton and long snapper Beau Brinkley.
AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner contributed to this report.