NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Titans have at least one more day to see if the team’s coronavirus outbreak is under control before their game with the Steelers is rescheduled for Monday or Tuesday.
Only one new positive test result came back Wednesday, a day after the Titans had three players and five team personnel test positive for COVID-19. More daily test results are upcoming.
The league announced the postponement from Sunday afternoon on Wednesday.
The Titans hope to be allowed back inside their facility Saturday, though coach Mike Vrabel said that could happen before then or later. The Titans now are preparing to play as early as Monday. Vrabel said he’s confident the NFL will allow them some time to practice before the game.
“We’ve worked on short weeks before,” Vrabel said. “We’ve played three games in 13 days. I’m sure the other teams that we played before had a few extra days of practice. And so it’ll be important that the time that we do get to spend practicing, we take advantage of it.”
Outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen was the first to test positive, with the Titans learning Saturday of his results. He didn’t make the trip to Minnesota, where Tennessee won 31-30. On Tuesday, the Titans placed three players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including key players defensive captain and lineman DaQuan Jones and long snapper Beau Brinkley.
Vrabel is not identifying the five personnel who also tested positive, saying only that he was not among that group. The Titans coach said some of those who tested positive are experiencing “flu-like symptoms” and anticipate they will feel better shortly.
The league’s infectious disease experts have been helping the Titans and the Vikings track down anyone in contact with those who tested positive. The Vikings had no positive test results Wednesday and were preparing to reopen their building Thursday with a game Sunday at Houston.
The Titans also have evaluated all of the protocols and how they’ve handled meetings and social distancing. Vrabel said he and general manager Jon Robinson already had taken steps Monday to severely limit who had access to the team’s headquarters this week before the NFL decision to close the building.
“We want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to make the players safe and that this doesn’t happen again,” Vrabel said.
Now the Titans must prepare virtually until they can hit the practice field for a game against the Steelers pitting two of the NFL’s seven undefeated teams.
Vrabel said they held a team meeting virtually Wednesday morning and he showed the Titans video of Pittsburgh. Players had meetings with their position coaches — all through video conference calls.
With only a practice and a walk-through possible before kickoff, the Titans will be preparing virtually for the Steelers to make sure they’re all on the same page. Pittsburgh has a league-high 15 sacks, so paying attention and talking on those Zoom calls will be crucial.
Players with injuries still can receive treatment at the Titans’ facility, with visits to the training room staggered. Other Titans are home hoping no more positive results turn up and that they themselves don’t test positive even as they attempt to keep their family members safe.
Safety Kevin Byard said more positives remain a possibility with the virus sometimes showing up days after exposure. In the meantime, it’s up to individual players being professionals and finding a way to make up for missed practices.
“If it’s getting on a Peloton bike, just going around your neighbourhood, jogging around to making sure that you continue to try to get your blood going, get your blood flowing, do a little bit conditioning on your own, to make sure that when you actually get out there your muscles aren’t just super tight,” Byard said.
The Titans are working to bring in a new long snapper, a crucial position for a team that has won all three games inside the final two minutes on a field goal. That player will have to go through the NFL’s testing protocol first. Replacing Jones also won’t be easy, but defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons is off to a strong start.
For the Steelers, the only change is the schedule pushes back a day or two. They host the Eagles on Oct. 11 while the Titans are scheduled to host Buffalo.
“We’re going to trust the medical experts,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “If they deem it safe for us to proceed, we’re going to go down there with the intention of playing and playing to win.”
Cleveland Browns centre JC Tretter, the president of the players’ union, said the outbreak was a reminder that everyone must be more vigilant despite low testing numbers across the league.
“It’s easy to fall into a sense of ease or relax on some of the protocols,” he said Wednesday. “But the protocols are what’s keeping us going, making sure that we’re making the right decisions. ? We have been going really smoothly for a long time and now there was some expectation that this was eventually going to happen. It’s tough to keep the virus completely out.”
And the Titans are the NFL’s first team tasked with finding a way to adapt and play through the league’s first COVID-19 outbreak.
“It’s not ideal, but we have to find a way,” quarterbak Ryan Tannehill said. “We have to be able to overcome adversity. It’s just a different type of adversity. We’ve done it throughout this season so far a few weeks in and showed our mental strength that we can find a way to win games, and this is just another challenge along that road.”
Cam Newton: Starting Job In Danger If Poor Play Continues – RealGM.com
Cam Newton admitted his job as quarterback of the New England Patriots will be in jeopardy if he struggles like he did against the San Francisco 49ers.
“The first thing I said to myself coming home was, ‘You keep playing games like that, bro, and it’s going to be a permanent change,'” Newton said Monday morning on Boston sports radio WEEI.
“You don’t need to tell me that for me to understand that. I get it loud and clear.”
Bill Belichick said he’s “absolutely” sticking with Newton as his starter despite giving Jarrett Stidham some reps in the fourth quarter.
“For any type of competitor, do you feel embarrassed? Yeah,” Newton said Monday in the radio interview. “I don’t feel offended by what was done. I don’t feel offended having this type of conversation. I’m a realist.
“I don’t fear my position stability more so than controlling the locker room. Performances like yesterday jeopardizes [that]. It’s like ‘Oh my God!’ Players talk and that’s what’s most important to me. Knowing you have your coaches’ belief [is good], but my belief is that I want to have the whole facility … It doesn’t start with no miraculous play. It’s a whole body of work that goes into performing on Sunday.”
Rams dominate matchup of tough defences to prevail over Bears – TSN
INGLEWOOD, Calif. — The Rams could tell Leonard Floyd was playing with an uncommon fury against his old team, and the rest of the Los Angeles defence followed his lead.
By the time the Rams were done with the Chicago Bears on Monday night, Floyd had two sacks and the game ball — and Los Angeles had a decisive, energizing victory over a fellow NFC contender.
Josh Reynolds and Gerald Everett caught touchdown passes from Jared Goff, and the Rams won a matchup of dominant defences, beating the Bears 24-10.
“We proved that we were the better defence today,” Floyd said after a six-tackle performance in his first game against Chicago since the Bears released him last off-season.
After his first sack, Floyd jumped up and went toward the Bears sideline, shouting and gesticulating at the team that let him go. Floyd already knows he landed in a good spot with the Rams (5-2), who remained unbeaten at brand-new SoFi Stadium and reasserted themselves in the conference hierarchy with a rebound performance one week after a rough loss at San Francisco
“I thought our defence was outstanding from start to finish,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “They did such a great job. Some key stops, some key turnovers. Offensively, we did enough to get that lead and then really just run out the clock on that game.”
Goff passed for 219 yards and Malcolm Brown rushed for a score for the Rams, but their defence did the hardest work.
Taylor Rapp made an end-zone interception on a pass deflection by Troy Hill while the Rams held Chicago (5-2) to 182 yards in the first three quarters and built a 24-3 lead.
Eddie Jackson returned a fumble 8 yards for Chicago’s only touchdown with 7:30 to play, but Los Angeles’ defence stayed in control, yielding 279 total yards and three points. The Rams have won twice in three defence-dominated games between these longtime rivals over the past three seasons.
“Obviously, stating the obvious, the offence, we’ve got to get this stuff figured out,” Chicago coach Matt Nagy said. “It’s not good enough, and to be outscored by your defence, obviously, is unacceptable, too. So that part is frustrating.”
Nick Foles passed for 261 yards for the Bears, who dropped out of the NFC North lead and fell to 3-1 on the road with their latest discouraging offensive performance. Chicago managed just 49 yards rushing and has 175 yards on the ground in the past four games.
Jackson insisted the defence won’t get discouraged by the offence’s struggles.
“It’s a team sport, and we know the type of players we have on offence,” Jackson said. “We’ll put ’em against any defence any day. You’re going to come up short in some games … but we’re going to continue to rally around one another and do our best.”
The Rams’ defence, now co-ordinated by former Bears outside linebackers coach Brandon Staley, sacked Foles four times and picked off two of his passes, including Jalen Ramsey‘s first interception of the season near midfield to clinch the victory with 3:13 to play.
Staley also was awarded a game ball by McVay after the latest in a strong line of performances by his defence.
“The defence, we’re playing aggressive, we’re playing physical, and we’re making all the right plays,” said linebacker Justin Hollins, who had a huge fourth-down sack in the red zone after Aaron Donald flushed Foles from the pocket in the fourth quarter. “Everybody is on one page. We’re just one tight unit right now.”
The Rams led 10-3 at halftime after holding the Bears to 126 yards. Reynolds made his 4-yard TD reception in the first quarter, but the Bears stopped two additional drives just outside field goal range to keep the deficit manageable.
The Rams went up 17-3 midway through the third quarter on a TD drive capped by Brown’s 1-yard run.
Chicago mounted its best drive immediately thereafter, but its 71-yard march ended when Hill deflected a pass intended for Darnell Mooney in the end zone and Rapp snagged it for an interception.
The Rams followed with a crisp 80-yard drive capped by a 12-yard TD catch-and-run by Everett, their big-play tight end.
Chicago showed life when Jackson returned Robert Woods‘ fumble on a jet sweep for the sixth defensive touchdown of his four-year career, but the Bears couldn’t ride any momentum.
Even Rams punter Johnny Hekker dominated the Bears, pinning them inside their 10 with all five of his punts in a superb performance by the four-time Pro Bowler.
“Johnny is the best punter in the league, and he showed it tonight,” Goff said. “He really was a weapon for us.”
The Rams celebrated his big kicks as a team, and Hekker even got a chest bump from Donald, LA’s All-Pro defensive tackle.
“It’s just great to know that Aaron Donald knows my name sometimes,” Hekker said with a laugh.
Bears: WR Allen Robinson was evaluated for a concussion after he left the game late in the fourth quarter. He led the Bears with 70 yards receiving. … C Cody Whitehair injured his calf in the second half.
Rams: Rookie S Terrell Burgess was taken off the field on a cart in the fourth quarter with an air cast around his left leg. He has an ankle injury. … TE Tyler Higbee was inactive with a hand injury, missing his second game since 2016. Johnny Mundt had a career-high 47 yards receiving in his absence, including a career-best 34-yard catch in the second quarter.
Bears: Host New Orleans on Sunday.
Rams: Visit Miami on Sunday as the opponent in Tua Tagovailoa‘s debut start.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Naylor: David Braley symbolized the past 30 years of the CFL – TSN
How to sum up David Braley’s meaning to the Canadian Football League?
Braley, the Ontario-based businessman and former Senator who passed away Monday at the age of 79, was at various times the owner of three teams in a nine-team league, including the Toronto Argonauts in whom he held a secret ownership position at the same time he owned the BC Lions.
He served as the CFL’s chairman of the board and took on the commissioner’s role in 2003 after he led the charge to oust Michael Lysko in 2002.
And until recently, when poor health interfered with his ability to participate in the business of the CFL, he was a powerful presence among league governors, so much so that every commissioner had to be aware of where Braley stood on key issues and be prepared to deal with being on the opposite side.
It became a common refrain among people within the league that there would be no Canadian Football League without Braley. And yet, he was both loved and loathed by those within it. Some considered him the league’s biggest benefactor, while others considered him a ruthless profiteer.
Braley grew up in Hamilton, Ont., rooting for the Tiger-Cats. He had played football in high school and at McMaster University, and was a Tiger-Cat season ticket holder before, during and after his ownership of the team, which went from 1989 until he sold the team in 1992 over his opposition to the CFL’s plan to expand to the U.S.
He re-entered the CFL officially as the savior of the Lions in late 1996, one of three CFL franchises insolvent by the end of that season. Braley claimed a federal cabinet minister had warned him that the CBC would bail as a TV partner if the league couldn’t field a Vancouver franchise the next season, so he stepped up.
When the Toronto Argonauts went bankrupt in 2003 under the ownership of Sherwood Schwartz, Braley was front and centre in the search for new owners, trying to broker a deal with Toronto businessmen David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski.
The pair balked at the losses they’d be inheriting with the Argonauts. So Braley offered to be their partner, an arrangement that was known only by then-commissioner Tom Wright and select others before it was revealed in a 2009 Globe and Mail story.
The league subsequently passed bylaws requiring internal disclosure of all financial arrangements between teams. Braley eventually took over full ownership of the Argos in 2010, then sold the team to Bell and Larry Tanenbaum in 2016.
In its darkest hours, the CFL could always count on Braley, or so it seemed. He was there when the Lions and Argos needed new ownership, but also at various times over the past three decades when teams found themselves short on cash.
It’s believed he loaned money to every team in the CFL at least once, except for the Edmonton Eskimos. That includes to the Tiger-Cats during the years after he sold them to a non-profit group when he would continue to quietly write cheques to help the team make payroll. Braley’s name may not have been on the franchise, but he remained its primary financial backer.
That kind of financial influence in such a small league granted him enormous power, and Braley was never shy about trying to wield his influence over the direction of the league.
He also appeared to be rewarded with a disproportionate number of occasions to host the Grey Cup, which, in most circumstances, is a surefire money-maker. The Braley-owned Lions or Argos hosted the game five times over a 10-year period from 2005 to 2014.
Braley had created his wealth from scratch, taking a loan to purchase an industrial distributing company from a former neighbour, then shifting its focus into becoming a global auto parts manufacturing giant.
He was a well-known for his frugality as his wealth, a pattern demonstrated when he purchased the Tiger-Cats from an ailing Harold Ballard for $500,000, financed with proceeds from the team’s five-year sponsorship agreement with Player’s Tobacco.
That frugality was legendary in the CFL. Despite his wealth, Braley was known to be reluctant to spend on what he considered unnecessary frills for his teams and the league.
His views on the business of the CFL were rooted in traditional approaches to marketing and selling tickets, and he privately railed against the league putting every game on television, favouring blackouts because he believed it would mean better business at the turnstiles.
He had waxed about selling the Lions for at least a decade, engaging with different groups of potential owners but always deciding either the timing or the group itself and what it was willing to pay for the team wasn’t right.
That seemed to do the franchise no favours as he continued to hang on as both his own health and that of his franchise was slipping.
Though the belief in Vancouver is that any Lions business turnaround has to start with new ownership, Braley’s ownership has been viewed as a safety net for the franchise during the pandemic, given his willingness to financially stabilize the franchise.
He was believed to be among the owners who were willing to play a shortened 2020 season, even without government support.
Braley in so many ways symbolized the past 30 years of the CFL: rooted in tradition, dependent on philanthropy and run by a powerful few.
There will never be another like him.
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