NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Titans' COVID-19 outbreak is nearing an end even with two starting offensive linemen still on the reserve list.
Not everyone around the NFL may be as healthy to kick off this season with COVID-19 proving to be an issue hovering over another season.
“Everybody, whether it’s the league, whether it’s your family, my family, we all have to just understand that we’re going to deal with some things,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said Monday. "We’re going to deal with positive test results from vaccinated people. We’ll follow the protocols how we have to and try to be as safe as we possibly can.”
Vrabel, who said last spring he was vaccinated, was the first to test positive Aug. 22 in an outbreak that reached at least 14, including 10 players. Vrabel is optimistic that both center Ben Jones and right guard Nate Davis will be back soon enough to practice before the Titans host Arizona in the season opener Sunday.
Other NFL teams may be without starters for their openers.
Miami put its presumed starting left tackle Austin Jackson and backup tight end Adam Shaheen on the COVID-19 reserve list Monday ahead of Sunday's opener at New England. Carolina starting right guard John Miller also went on the reserve list Monday and will miss the Panthers' home opener against the Jets.
Miller will be out 10 days, which indicates under league rules he was unvaccinated and tested positive. Carolina coach Matt Rhule said last week only two Panthers' players had not been vaccinated.
The Jets are waiting to see if wide receiver Jamison Crowder will be available after going on the reserve list last Friday after testing positive. Vaccinated, Crowder needs to test negative 24 hours apart twice under NFL protocols.
Dallas likely will be without four-time Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin for its opener Thursday night at Tampa Bay.
All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu, who is vaccinated, remained out Monday after his positive test for COVID-19 as the two-time defending AFC champions began preparing Monday for their season opener against Cleveland.
Ryan Tannehill was just starting to practice with AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year Derrick Henry, seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones and Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Brown when the Titans quarterback was put on the reserve list Aug. 26. He was activated Saturday and was on the field Monday.
Vrabel said Tannehill will have to build a relationship with Jones, acquired by trade in June, on the field. Both have met extensively, the Titans have talked about it and now must finetune in practice for the opener.
Asked if he talked to his players about staying safe before having a three-day weekend off, Vrabel said the Titans always try to be smart about what they do.
“Judging from the games that I watched, I didn’t see that COVID was much of a concern for anybody, but we have to be smart in the decisions that we make,” Vrabel said. “Whether it is who we hang out with, what we do, and I think that they are very conscious of that.”
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