Player injuries became a secondary variable for teams last NFL season when COVID-19 made its introduction. The NFL and individual franchises continue to navigate how to play football in the midst of a pandemic.
This year, the NFL has instituted enhanced restrictions, enforcing different protocols for players that are vaccinated vs. unvaccinated.
A bevy of players have already made it to the Reserve/COVID-19 list during preseason play.
The NFL’s new COVID policy can be confusing. Below you’ll find a breakdown of the rules and which Tennessee Titans players could be sitting out.
We are updating this post weekly, so check back in to stay up-to-date on changes to the Titans’ roster.
NFL COVID-19 protocol for players in 2021
The NFL COVID guidelines for the 2021 season paint a more promising picture for Tennessee’s upcoming season.
Titans players boast a vaccination rate of over 97% among the team, one of the highest rates in the league.
Vaccinated players will not have to isolate or enter protocols just for coming in contact with COVID.
If a vaccinated player tests positive, they can return to football activities once they have two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.
When it comes to those without a vaccination, special rules are in place across the league.
All unvaccinated players must isolate for five days after making close contact with someone who has tested positive. If an unvaccinated player has tested positive for COVID-19, he must isolate for a full 10 days.
In the event that a game is canceled due to an outbreak between unvaccinated NFL players, the infected team must forfeit the game. The team will incur a diminished playoff seeding as well as potential additional fines and sanctions.
Moreover, players forfeit payment for the lost game, and the franchise at fault must incur any additional resulting expenses.
These new guidelines should help to pave a more seamless path to this year’s Super Bowl.
Recent Titans on the Reserve/COVID-19 list
Titans personnel set out to be especially cautious in 2021 after multiple outbreaks disrupted play last season. Although the Titans went on to claim victory over the AFC East, the organization incurred a $350,000 fine for violating NFL COVID-19 protocols.
For the most part, Tennessee is kicking off the season with an unscathed roster.
Tennessee hit a small bump in the road in the preseason when head coach Mike Vrabel tested positive for COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated. Vrabel announced his test results Sunday, Aug. 22, one day after the Titans played their first preseason matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
A handful of other Titans players subsequently tested positive during preseason play.
Tennessee QB Ryan Tannehill was the seventh player to transfer to the Reserve/COVID-19 list that week. Since then, he’s returned to the active roster and is set to take the field against the Cardinals in Week 1.
The team also recently welcomed RB Jeremy McNichols, WR Racey McMath and LB Harold Landry back from the COVID-19 reserve.
Other recently-positive players who have since returned to the active roster include:
- RG Nate Davis
- C Ben Jones
- OL Cole Banwart
- LB Justin March-Lillard
- TE Geoff Swaim
- DT Anthony Rush
- LB Nick Dzubnar
SAF Brady Breeze, on the other hand, remains on the reserve list due to illness.
Players sitting out during Week 1
Most Titans are now off the COVID-19 list, but some players will sit out Week 1 due to various injuries.
Wide receiver A.J. Brown has not participated in recent practice sessions and will likely not take to the field against the Cardinals.
Hamstring injuries resulted in limited practice participation for center Chris Jackson and LB David Long this week, and they are both listed as questionable for Week 1.
Center Daniel Munyer is on the injured reserve list due to an ankle injury and is expected to return during Week 4.
RB Darrynton Evans and WR Marcus Johnson also made the list with expected Week 4 returns.