Expect to see more NFL players wearing COVID-19 masks when they’re on the sidelines, starting Sunday.
The league on Friday recommended to clubs that all players not in the game wear face masks on the sideline as often as possible, to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
A handful of players across the league each week continue to become infected, including two more on Friday.
“We recognize that we still have vulnerability in the sideline area with players and coaches and staff during a game,” the NFL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, told reporters on a conference call late Friday afternoon.
“We’ve (seen) contact between a player and a large number of teammates and staff that, had that player been positive, it would have resulted in a very large number of high-risk contacts.”
For two weeks now, the league and NFLPA have mandated that all high-risk contacts must automatically be quarantined for five days, even if they continue to test negative.
What’s more, the league is recommending clubs (1) do more to enhance distancing amid players and coaches on the sideline, while the league mulls expanding each team’s designated sideline footprint, and (2) try harder to limit sideline personnel to those who absolutely must be there.
NO IN-GAME TRANSMISSION
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Postmedia on Friday that detailed contact tracing has found “there has been no transmission of the virus” during a game, between players of either the same team or opposing teams.
To date, 106 of 256 regular-season NFL games have been played, with up to 48 players a side competing in each.
From Aug. 1 through last Saturday, 55 players and 82 other team personnel had tested positive for COVID-19, after more than a half-million daily tests were conducted.
“Less than half” of players who have caught the coronavirus have been symptomatic, McCarthy said.
BRONCO, VIKING POSITIVE
Although two more NFL players tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday, no games this weekend have been affected — and won’t be barring further concerning test results Saturday or Sunday morning.
Reports said the players are Denver guard Graham Glasgow and Minnesota linebacker Todd Davis.
The Vikings on Friday afternoon placed Davis on COVID-19/reserve. He’s the second player this week to go on the list, after cornerback Cameron Dantzler.
Glasgow identified himself as the infected Bronco.
“Hey everybody, I appreciate all the well wishes,” Glasgow tweeted. “Feeling pretty good right now. I’m hoping to stay healthy through this and get back out on the field as soon as I can.”
The Broncos on Friday announced they also sent home two other players to self-isolate, “who were determined to be close contacts” with Glasgow. Furthermore, “as a precaution we have made the decision to postpone today’s practice and conduct virtual meetings (instead).”
Neither the New York Giants nor Los Angeles Chargers had any additional players test positive, after each earlier in the week had one player test positive. Several Giants players deemed to be close contacts of the infected player were cleared Friday to return to practice, NFL.com said.
Denver plays host to Los Angeles on Sunday, and Minnesota plays at Green Bay.
Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy said the only way quarterback Andy Dalton (concussion) would play Sunday night at Philadelphia is if he can practise on Saturday. And as of Friday he was “not scheduled to practise,” McCarthy said.
So, barring the unlikely, green backup Ben DiNucci — a seventh-round draft pick (231st overall) out of James Madison University in April — will start at QB for the Cowboys.
We offer the following McCarthy quote about DiNucci, without comment:
“He’s a confident young man. He has a lot of tools to work with.”
RAVENS PAY STAR TACKLE
The Baltimore Ravens extended elite left tackle Ronnie Stanley. NFL Network reported his five-year second contract is worth up to $112.9 million over five years, with $70.9 million in guarantees.
Here are Friday’s official injury statuses for Sunday’s AFC North showdown in Baltimore.
For the 5-1 Ravens, RB Mark Ingram (ankle) is doubtful and CB Jimmy Smith (Achilles) and LB/DB Anthony Levine (abdomen) are both questionable.
For the 6-0 Pittsburgh Steelers, S Jordan Dangerfield (quad), LB Ulysees Gilbert (back) and NT Chris Wormley (knee) are out, while FB Derek Watt (hamstring) and CB Mike Hilton (shoulder) are questionable.
PATRIOTS ON THE LIMP
NFL Network said reigning NFL defensive player of the year, New England cornerback Stephon Gilmore, “tweaked his knee” at Thursday’s practice and had to leave early. Gilmore had an MRI and “the injury was deemed minor.” He did not practise Friday. The Patriots listed him as questionable for Sunday’s game at Buffalo.
Meanwhile, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick more or less confirmed Thursday reports that Julian Edelman underwent a minor surgical knee repair this week and will be out for the short term. Asked to specify a time frame, Belichick told a conference call that “I don’t think this is a season-ending situation, but we’ll see … Hopefully he’ll be back.”
With New England’s other starting wideout, Toronto-born N’Keal Harry, out for Sunday with a concussion, these are the wide receivers the Pats will suit up for a rainy, windy Sunday afternoon game at empty Bills Stadium in Buffalo: Jakobi Meyers, Damiere Byrd, Gunner Olszewski from the active roster, and perhaps two of these three practice-squad players, Mason Kinsey, Kristian Wilkerson and Isaiah Zuber.
Might not matter. In that weather, given the pitiful states of the Patriots pass offence and Bills rush defence, expect New England to try to run, run, run its way to victory.
HIDE THE KIDS
The good news the Minnesota Vikings got Friday was shaded by the bad. Star running back Dalvin Cook (groin) practised fully and is off the injury report. That’s the good.
But three of the Vikings’ top four cornerbacks won’t play at (gulp) Green Bay. Dantzler, as mentioned above, is on COVID/19-reserve, Mike Hughes (neck) was placed on IR on Friday, and Holton Hill (foot) never practised all week and is out. Of Minnesota’s top four corners only rookie Jeff Gladney, in his sixth career start, will face Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers — at Lambeau Field.
That Packers RB Aaron Jones won’t play because of a calf injury ought not trouble Rodgers and crew too much.
LEAGUE HIRES THIGPEN
Marcus Thigpen, a running back and kick returner from Detroit who from 2009-20 made three CFL and eight NFL rosters, is joining the NFL’s football operations department, to help with player engagement.
His last NFL team, the Buffalo Bills in 2015, nominated him for the role, to serve, empower and educate both current and former NFL players alike about available benefits, skills development and business opportunities.
Thigpen played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders first in 2009 then from 2017-19. He played with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats from 2010-11 and had signed to play this year with the Toronto Argos before the CFL cancelled the 2020 season.
Cleveland won’t have TE Austin Hooper (abdomen) against visiting Las Vegas on Sunday, but DE Myles Garrett (ankle) “is ready to go” with a normal workload, head coach Kevin Stefanski said … Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback Herb Adderley died at age 81. He was a star defender in Green Bay from 1961-69 … Detroit signed RB Jonathan Williams, a 2016 Buffalo Bills draft pick, from Washington’s practice squad.
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