There was a report earlier this week that 14 NFL players across the league had tested positive for COVID when reporting to training camp. In Washington, one player, OT Cornelius Lucas, was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list prior to the beginning of training camp.
Two days into the training camp, Washington has announced that three more players have been added to the COVID-19 reserve list. The players are WR Curtis Samuel, who had already been on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list due to a groin strain, CB Chris Miller, and DT Matt Ioannidis, who contracted COVID last season while he was on the Injured Reserve (IR) list after tearing his pectoral muscle in Week 3 of the 2020 season.
This is likely to significantly impact the availability of these players to participate in training camp, at least if any of them are unvaccinated. Under the current NFL protocols, a vaccinated layer cannot rejoin team activities after two negative tests that are at least 24 hours apart, while an unvaccinated player who tests positive will follow the same protocols as 2020. He must isolate for at least 10 days, whether or not he has symptoms. If asymptomatic, he can likely return after that time, although, If he has symptoms, he would isolate 10 days plus 24 hours after the last day he recorded a fever.
There have been numerous reports that Washington's vaccination rate among players is the lowest in the league. On the first day in Richmond, Ron Rivera spoke about his frustration with the situation.
"I'm truly frustrated; I'm beyond frustrated," Rivera said as he discussed his inability to convince the bulk of his roster to embrace vaccination against the virus.
While a number of players have elected not to comment on their vaccination status, one player, defensive lineman Montez Sweat, was very vocal during last month's minicamp about his reticence to get the jab. Media members have taken to pointing out the players who seem to be following the protocols for unvaccinated players, one of which is to wear a mask during press conference appearances. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick did his live press conference unmasked, leaving no doubt that he is vaccinated -- a fact that Fitzpatrick confirmed, adding that he has chosen to vaccinate those of his seven children who are old enough, and will get the rest vaccinated once scientists find a safe way to vaccinate those under the age of 12.
By contrast, Chase Young appeared at his press conference yesterday masked, and unwilling to say whether he himself had been vaccinated. The consistent message from nearly every player on the team has been that each one respects the decisions made individually by the others.
The early apparent spread of the virus in training camp, however, with four players unable to practice due to current protocols, is troubling. Given the restrictive protocols for unvaccinated players, and the large number of those players on the current roster, any further spread of the virus could have a serious effect on the team's ability to prepare for the season. If nothing changes in terms of protocols or vaccination rates, the very real possibility exists that the team could be at a competitive disadvantage at times during the regular season as players are forced to sit out for 2 weeks or longer due to a positive test or a close contact, much like the situation that affected the Denver Broncos last season when their entire quarterback group was forced to miss a regular season game.
The situation is not yet grim, but it bears watching. Unfortunately, in 2021, football isn't only about what happens on the field.
This is original content from NewsBreak’s Creator Program. Join today to publish and share your own content.