INDIANAPOLIS – The NFL reduces isolation time for players who test positive for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic, including unvaccinated players, to five days from 10.
The league and the NFL Players Association revised the protocols Tuesday after the CDC changed its guidelines for those who are asymptomatic and recommended a five-day isolation period and masking over the other five days.
The changes could allow Colts quarterback Carson Wentz to return to Sunday’s key game against Las Vegas after Indianapolis placed him on the reserve / COVID-19 list.
The NFL informed the clubs that unvaccinated players who tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days – including #Colts QB Carson Wentz and LB Darius Leonard and #Upload WR Mike Williams – is now eligible to play Sunday, provided symptoms improve, according to sources.
– Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 28, 2021
It was not immediately clear whether Wentz, who is unvaccinated, tested positive for the virus or was considered to be in close contact with another who tested positive. However, if Wentz has no symptoms, he may be allowed to play.
In a note sent to teams and obtained by the Associated Press, players and significant football staff may return under the following conditions:
– Five days have passed since a positive COVID-19 test.
At least 24 hours have passed since the person last had a fever without the use of antipyretic medication.
– Other symptoms, including cough, have disappeared or improved.
– The club’s primary sports physician decides after consultation with Infection Control for Sports and notification from the NFL’s Chief Physician that the individual can return to the club’s facilities and interact with other club employees / contractors.
– All local rules or requirements are met.
Fully vaccinated individuals can continue to “test out” of isolation earlier than five days after the positive test and should stop testing on day 5 and return under the updated guidance, provided all other prerequisites are met.
Masks must be worn on the sidelines and at all times except when playing and practicing for five days after returning home.
Masks must be worn by all players and staff indoors at team facilities. Players and staff must not eat together. There is a limit of 15 people for weight room. Also fully vaccinated staff and players are encouraged to avoid public areas including restaurants, bars and social gatherings.
The timing could not be worse for the Colts, who have rebounded from a 1-4 start to win eight of their last 10. They can win one of the seven AFC playoff spots with a win over the Raiders.
Indy’s move comes a day after five players, including right tackle Braden Smith, were added to a fast-growing COVID-19 roster.
Wentz’s backup is rookie Sam Ehlinger, who has played in three games but has not thrown a pass this season. He was a draft pick in the sixth round. Veterans Brett Hundley and James Morgan are on Indy’s training team. Hundley has gone 3-6 starting in the course of his NFL career.
Indy won Saturday in Arizona despite missing six starters due to COVID-19 and losing two more in the first half. The absence forced the Colts to only play with one of their five regular offensive linebackers, Smith.
It is unclear how many, if any, of these players can return on Sunday.
Elsewhere, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently isolating at home.
Head coach Bruce Arians isolates himself at home after being tested positive for COVID-19, where assistant head coach Harold Goodwin takes over the head coach duties.
– xz – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) December 28, 2021
The team said Tuesday that assistant head coach / driving game coordinator Harold Goodwin will serve as interim head coach in Arians’ absence. The reigning Super Bowl champions visit the New York Jets on Sunday.
Arians said in a statement released by the team: “I tested positive for COVID-19 this morning but have only experienced mild symptoms to this point. Harold Goodwin will take over my duties during my absence. I have full confidence in him and the rest of ours. “Coaching staff to prepare the team for this week’s match against the Jets. I look forward to joining the team again and being back in the facility as soon as I can test again.”
Meanwhile, the Bucs also placed cornerbacks Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting on the reserve / COVID-19 list. It increases the number of Tampa Bay players on the list to five.
Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones could be without his best backup against the Jaguars after veteran Brian Hoyer was added to the reserve / COVID-19 list along with linebackers Josh Uche and Brandon King.
Hoyer, who is on his fourth stay in New England, has previously served in backup roles for Tom Brady and Cam Newton. He has been Jones’ backup for each of the first 15 games this season.
If Hoyer is not available, fourth-round pick 2019, Jarrett Stidham, could move into that role. The promotion would come a little more than a month after Stidham were added back to the active list after starting the season on injured reserve with a back injury. He has appeared in eight career matches.
Hoyer, Uche and King make it to five Patriots players who have been added to the COVID-19 list in two days. Linebackers Matt Judon and Ja’Whaun Bentley, two of the Patriots’ most productive defensive players, were added Monday. While New England has some depth at linebacker, Judon has been its best pass-rusher, leading the team with 12 1/2 sacks.
Linebackers coach Jerod Mayo said Tuesday that the team is ready to adjust as needed in defense.
“We still have guys in our room who played a lot of ball, and I would also say that you can either replace people with another person, or you can replace it through the scheme,” Mayo said. “So we’re still in that process right now. Who do we want out on the pitch, what the plan is for this week, but in the end, the guys out there will be ready to go. Hopefully we get the guys back, but like I said before, we just have to treat it like an injury. ”
– The Green Bay Packers placed tight-end Marcedes Lewis and linebacker Oren Burks on the reserve / COVID-19 list. It comes a day after the Packers placed guard Ben Braden, linebacker Tipa Galeai, wide receiver / punt return Amari Rodgers and linebacker Ty Summers on the list and put defensive lineman RJ McIntosh on the training team reserve / COVID-19 list.
– The Baltimore Ravens lost another starter to the reserve / COVID-19 list and put linebacker Tyus Bowser on that Tuesday. Bowser has a career-high six layoffs on the season. The Ravens also put defensive back Ar’Darius Washington on the list. They activated cornerback Chris Westry from the list.
The Jacksonville Jaguars placed three more players on the reserve / COVID-19 list: tight-end Jacob Hollister, defensive tackle Jay Tufele and linebacker Damien Wilson. That brings the team total to 19 players on the list, including eight defensive linemen and four close ends.
– The Cincinnati Bengals placed wide receiver Auden Tate on the reserve / COVID-19 list. Tate has not played since week 7 and is on injured reserve due to a calf injury.
– The Philadelphia Eagles placed wide receiver John Hightower on the training team’s reserve / COVID-19 list.