The Tennessee Titans were able to return to their facilitySaturday, and the game on Tuesday night with the Buffalo Bills appears on track to be played.
The Titans had their facility closed on Sept. 29 due to a Covid-19 outbreak, and had last week's game with Pittsburgh moved to Oct. 25. The game with Buffalo was originally supposed to be played Sunday, but was one of two games moved by the league in week five, with New England and Denver being pushed back to Monday night.
The Titans say they are fully cooperating with the NFL and the NFL Players Association and that all players and coaches have spoken with representatives from both entities and are cooperating. Titans coach Mike Vrabel said the club would not have any comments regarding the investigation of how the Titans handled the coronavirus protocols leading up to and during the outbreak, including offsite practices where the timeline and mandates have created issues.
“With all questions that are going to relate to the review, we've been completely transparent with the NFL and with the NFLPA during this entire process and we're going to wait for their summary before commenting further on any of those discussions,” Vrabel said.
There has been talk that the league could punish the Titans heavily, possibly with suspensions, forfeited draft picks, fines or even forfeited games once the investigation is complete.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was present at one of the offsite meetings at Montgomery Bell Academy in question, said in regards criticisms that have come from elsewhere in the league that people are always quick to jump to conclusions without knowing all the facts.
“It's easy to jump to conclusions and jump down someone's throat in our snap reaction society today,” Tannehill said “People feel very empowered to have strong opinions and go to extremes wihtout knowing details and how things actually went down. It doesn't affect me if someone has an outlandish opinion. I'm of the opinion that you should really see for yourself and find out some more details before you jump down someone's throat.”
Titans safety Kevin Byard also said that he has seen and read outside opinions and said he would remember what was said by those around the league about the team. He said that the belief that the season could go off without any positive tests was a foolish notion.
“Just certain comments about we should forfeit, different comments like that kind of frustrated me,” Byard said. “We're in a pandemic. I just believe that if anybody went into this season thinking that there weren't going to be any positive tests or outbreaks of all 32 teams, I think that's kind of foolish. Obviously, we weren't trying be the team that had the outbreak. We're not trying to get Covid-19, so I think it is what it is, but I definitely took note of it.”
Meanwhile, the Titans are now trying to get ready for the Bills on short notice with a walk-through style practice Saturday, a more normal workout Sunday and a day-before-game walk-through on Monday.
“I wouldn't say we're at a disadvantage, but we're not in the same position as every other team in the league with stricter protocols and not being able to practice the past two weeks, but at the end of the day we're going to have to look at the positive situation that we're back. … We've got to be really intentional about every single rep that we can get for the rest of the week and the rest of the season,” Byard said.
The Titans have 23 members of the organization in the Covid-19 protocol, including 13 players. Vrabel added that the Titans are hopeful that some players have been in the protocol now for nearly two weeks, could potentially return in time for the game on Sunday. The first Titans players to test positive included practice squad cornerback Greg Mabin (Sept. 24) and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, long snapper Beau Brinkley and practice squad tight end Tommy Hudson (since suspended for PED violation), all on Sept. 29 which led to the facility to be shut down.
“I would say hopefully. We want to make sure that they are going through the protocols, that the cardiovascular screenings before doing that,” Vrabel said. “That's going to be something that we're gonna have to look at. That will start today for a few players. I'll try to keep you up to date on where we are with those players going into Monday potentially.”
The Titans do have other long snap options who are in the entrance protocol and could be signed in the event that long snapper Brinkley is unavailable Tuesday.
In and out
Cornerback Adoree' Jackson remains on injured reserve with a knee injury and will not play Tuesday night vs. the Bills.
Vrabel said that Jackson will not be available. He said that receiver A.J. Brown, who has been listed as limited in the virtual injury reports that have been put out the previous two days, will be evaluated Saturday and Sunday before a determination is made as to whether he can go.
The Titans are likely to be without at least three receivers with Corey Davis, Adam Humphries and Cameron Batson all in the Covid-19 protocol and on the reserve list. Tight end MyCole Pruitt is also on the Covid-19/reserve list.
First-round pick Isaiah Wilson was scheduled to be activated off the Covid list where he had been since Sept. 6. He should practice and could make his NFL debut against the Bills.