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Some NFL clubs are taking additional efforts to prevent their quarterbacks from catching COVID-19 as the virus spreads.
Teams like the Indianapolis Colts are dealing with the risk of not having their best quarterback available for a crucial game, just as they did in 2020. On Wednesday, Colts starting Carson Wentz was placed on the team’s COVID-19 reserve list, putting his availability for Sunday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders (1 p.m. ET, Fox) in jeopardy.
Here’s how some NFL teams that have clinched a playoff berth or are in contention for one are ensuring they have a healthy quarterback, whether it’s isolating one quarterback, spacing out the quarterback room, holding virtual meetings, or adhering to other safety guidelines outlined by the league and government officials. Teams are ranked according to their conference seeding.
Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love, and Kurt Benkert of the practice squad have all tested positive for COVID-19 this season, so they don’t need to test again. The earliest Rodgers would be put through another test would be during the Super Bowl week. The Super Bowl has proven to be a test of love.
While the Packers wouldn’t have to do anything extra for its quarterbacks, coach Matt LaFleur has said that he would take the team virtual for everything but practice if he sees fit. Rob Demovsky of ESPN reports on the Green Bay Packers.
The Cowboys don’t need to separate quarterbacks since they’re already in virtual-meeting mode. According to coach Mike McCarthy, they even withdrew No. 3 quarterback Will Grier from virtual meetings because he had the sniffles. Before the playoffs, the Cowboys plan to resume in-person — but socially distant — meetings, and have discussed several situations.
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“We’re extremely aware of the position groupings and dealing with everyone smartly,” McCarthy added. “However, it is the personal concentration that is most essential. I believe we’re doing a great job here in terms of our time together outside of the practice field and locker room, the way it’s set up.” Todd Archer, ESPN Cowboys reporter
Bucs interim head coach Harold Goodwin described the quarterback room as “business as usual” and lauded the position group for adhering to COVID-19 rules. Should Tom Brady, Blaine Gabbert, Kyle Trask, and Ryan Griffin all be unavailable, the Buccaneers have had an emergency option in tight end Cameron Brate for the previous two seasons.
The Buccaneers have four quarterbacks on the active roster, which helps. Jenna Laine, ESPN Buccaneers reporter
This season, none of Arizona’s quarterbacks — Kyler Murray, Colt McCoy, Trace McSorley, and Chris Streveler — have had COVID-19. Arizona will keep spacing them out rather than separating them.
Coach Kliff Kingsbury remarked, “We feel like we have a decent strategy for it.” Josh Weinfuss, ESPN Cardinals reporter
Coach Kyle Shanahan said the team shifted to virtual meetings on Wednesday, two days after punter Mitch Wishnowsky was placed on the COVID list for the first time since August.
“We’ve been lucky thus far,” Shanahan said, “having just one player down.” “But we’re just trying to be careful and keep everyone separate right now until we go outside,” says the narrator. “But just watching the world and watching everyone, knowing how it’s a matter of time is what it looks like, so we’re just trying to be careful and keep everyone separate right now until we go outside.”
The Niners also added QB Tyler Bray to the practice squad, giving them Bray and Nate Sudfeld as practice squad quarterbacks and Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance as active roster quarterbacks. Nick Wagoner of ESPN’s 49ers beat
Coach Nick Sirianni recently said that the Eagles are holding quarterbacks Jalen Hurts, Gardner Minshew, and Reid Sinnett in separate rooms at the NovaCare Complex due to an increase in coronavirus infections.
“We’ll make some tweaks… we’ll probably make even more alterations than we need to keep everyone safe,” Sirianni stated. “Separate rooms will be set up for the quarterbacks. Because they’ll be in different rooms, we’ll be much safer.” Tim McManus, ESPN Eagles reporter
Coach Mike Zimmer said the Vikings are taking greater safety precautions this week and will separate their quarterbacks in meetings after placing backup quarterback Sean Mannion, who is vaccinated, on the reserve/COVID-19 list hours before their defeat to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
“We don’t want those men in the same room,” Zimmer said, “so we’ll attempt to disperse them apart.”
Kirk Cousins, the starting quarterback, is still unvaccinated, and rookie Kellen Mond, who was Cousins’ backup against Los Angeles in the opening game of the season, has been following unvaccinated player procedures. Courtney Cronin, ESPN Vikings reporter
Throughout the season, Coach Arthur Smith has been putting systems in place for his quarterbacks — and other positions — in order to reduce risk as much as possible.
“Right now, I don’t believe anybody has the ideal answer,” Smith remarked. “I believe it is the one feature about the omicron variety that is glaringly clear.”
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Matt Ryan, the quarterback, said he had done all he can to protect himself in terms of vaccinations and boosters. Inside the Falcons’ facility, everyone has been split out in various areas of the room all year to prevent touch and be less near to one another.
“We aren’t in a crowded conference room,” Ryan said. “At the end of the day, none of us are really that close.” — Michael Rothstein, ESPN Falcons reporter
Last week, the Saints faced the worst-case situation when they lost both of their starting quarterbacks, Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian, as well as 18 other eligible players, to positive COVID-19 tests. In the Saints’ 20-3 defeat to the Miami Dolphins on Monday night, rookie quarterback Ian Book was forced to start. But now that both Hill and Siemian are expected to be ready for the rest of the season, the Saints won’t have to worry about isolating them. Mike Triplett, ESPN Saints reporter
Football Team of Washington
Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen, Washington’s top two quarterbacks, both missed the Dec. 21 game against Philadelphia after testing positive for COVID-19, and Kyle Shurmur was added to the list on Thursday. Washington will continue to take measures since there is another quarterback on the roster, Garrett Gilbert, and there are coaches to consider. Instead of sitting in their regular tiny conference room, the seven of them take up the 75-seat team meeting room. They wear masks and spread out, according to coach Ron Rivera. John Keim, a reporter for ESPN’s Washington Football Team
The Titans’ quarterbacks are still in the building. They’ll convene in the practice bubble and also have “a large team meeting area that you only have a few people in,” according to coach Mike Vrabel.
Overall, the company is taking deliberate steps to ensure that everyone is properly spread apart. Ryan Tannehill and Logan Woodside, both quarterbacks, have been immunized. Turron Davenport, ESPN Titans reporter
Last season, the Bengals deployed a “quarantine” quarterback, and this season, they’re isolating practice squad quarterback Jake Browning.
Coach Zac Taylor stated a few weeks ago that the team withdrew Browning from quarterback sessions and had him attend through video teleconferencing to avoid any physical encounters. The quarterbacks have willingly worn masks and limited in-person contact to sessions and games, according to Taylor. Ben Baby, an ESPN Bengals reporter
The Bills have kept their intentions for separating quarterbacks under wraps, but the club has been meeting digitally for the last two weeks, so any separation preparations are mostly superfluous. Furthermore, backup quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list over a month ago, is not presently testing.
Josh Allen is the only other quarterback on the active roster, with Davis Webb on the practice squad, but no intentions to separate Webb have been announced as of yet.
“We speak about those things a lot,” coach Sean McDermott said, “trying to go over all the eventualities and impossible circumstances that may come up.” “So we haven’t decided yet whether to follow that way, but we’ll see how it goes.” Alaina Getzenberg, ESPN Bills reporter
After Wentz was put on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday, Frank Reich refused to disclose his team’s preparations, but the coach addressed the matter on Monday and stated the quarterbacks had been attempting to follow their own rules to be safe.
“They’ve been doing it in their own unofficial manner,” Reich said. “There have been occasions when we’ve all gotten together, but there have also been times when the players are all viewing footage in the same room, so there’s been less of that. When we’re not in a formal meeting, the men will often be viewing footage together, so we try to keep it to a minimum.” Mike Wells, ESPN Colts reporter
Bill Belichick refused to go into detail about how the Patriots handled their COVID-19 strategy with quarterbacks, but he did say, “We’ve tried to take the maximum measures that we can with everyone… especially the ones who aren’t vaccinated.”
The intricacies of the Patriots’ quarterback position resulted in at least one quarterback being removed from the rest of the group during meetings. Mike Reiss, ESPN Patriots reporter
The quarterbacks are not in meetings together because the Ravens are in virtual-meeting mode. This season, Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley, Baltimore’s top two quarterbacks, have had COVID-19. When Huntley tested positive for COVID-19 and Jackson was already out with an ankle ailment, the Ravens had no choice but to play Josh Johnson last Sunday. Jamison Hensley of ESPN’s Ravens beat
The Chargers resumed virtual meetings and press conferences this week after placing over a dozen players on the COVID-19 reserve list, which has now been reduced to ten. Chase Daniel, the Chargers’ backup quarterback, was on the injured reserve list last week and was unable to play in the Chargers’ defeat to the Houston Texans, but he has since been activated.
Joe Lombardi, the offensive coordinator, remarked, “We’re maintaining physical space.” “Many of the meetings were held virtually. We’re taking all of the necessary steps. I believe the players… are chatting on their phones or laptops at home. They arrive for practice, which is held entirely outdoors. We’re attempting to reduce their chances of obtaining it.” Shelley Smith, ESPN Chargers reporter
Raiders coach Rich Bisaccia didn’t mention his quarterbacks by name, but he did claim the organization has lately beefed up its safety measures.
“On both sides of the indoor facility, [Director of Team Operations] Tom Jones constructed the additional rooms,” Bisaccia stated. “The seats are 3-5 yards apart, and men in the building have been wearing masks. We also did a lot of Zooming towards the conclusion of last week.
“As early as last week, we placed ourselves on some kind of intense program, which we’ve continued this week.” Obviously, it’s all over the league. It’s in numerous leagues, and we’ll deal with it the same way everyone else does.
“We’ve discussed how every week you seem to be playing with a new team and against a different squad. We’re getting set to face the Colts once again, and this time we’re prepping for different quarterbacks. We aren’t quite certain who we will see. As a result, it’s become the standard.” Paul Gutierrez, ESPN Raiders reporter
Under the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 13, but he wouldn’t be tested again until days before the Super Bowl.
The Steelers are following the guidelines and will make required modifications to all position groups, but since Roethlisberger has had the illness, they aren’t as concerned as some of the other teams. Brooke Pryor, an ESPN Steelers reporter
The Broncos have employed social distancing for the most of the season, with quarterbacks huddled with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and quarterbacks coach Mike Shula at the team’s indoor facility. On a section of the indoor field, the group seats far apart. Virtual meetings are also used by the Broncos on occasion.
Even while the rest of the team was meeting in person, the squad kept their additional quarterback — most commonly No. 3 QB Brett Rypien — in virtual meetings all season. Only on the practice field or in the locker room before practice did the third quarterback interact with the others.
Teddy Bridgewater, the Broncos’ starting quarterback, is now in concussion protocol, but none of the team’s quarterbacks have tested positive for COVID-19 thus far this season. Jeff Legwold is a reporter for ESPN who covers the Denver Broncos.
Las Vegas Raiders is a professional American football team based in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Raiders are members of the Western Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). Reference: las vegas raiders.
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