| The Detroit News
As the NFL continues to navigate the murky waters of the COVID-19 pandemic, altering the schedule for eight teams last week, the Detroit Lions had been unaffected. That could change: Next week’s opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, experienced an outbreak that shut down their practice facility Thursday, according to ESPN.
The Falcons had placed rookie defensive tackle Marlon Davidson on the COVID-19 reserve list Wednesday, with more cases cropping up in their latest batch of daily testing. Their opponent last Sunday, the Carolina Panthers, also began taking extra precautions following Davidson’s positive test.
“Out of an abundance of caution following one new positive test, we have made the decision to stop all in-person work at IBM Performance Field Thursday and will conduct all operations virtually,” the Falcons said in a statement. “This decision was made in consultation with the NFL and medical officials. The health and safety of our team is our highest priority.”
Five weeks into the regular season, we’ve repeatedly seen the impact of the pandemic as multiple games have already been postponed. That included one game being played on Tuesday this week.
Because of an outbreak that spread through the Tennessee Titans organization for more than a week, the league was forced to make significant adjustments to the schedule, shuffling matchup dates and bye weeks for seven other teams last week.
The Lions got through their first four games without incident, though there was a scare ahead of the Week 4 game with New Orleans, after Saints fullback Michael Burton tested positive the day the team traveled to Detroit. Further testing revealed that to be a false-positive, allowing the game to remain on schedule.
To the Lions’ credit, they haven’t had a player test positive since several the end of July when the team reported to training camp. Coach Matt Patricia recently declined to comment on whether anyone else in the organization, including coaches, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus the past two months.
“I think for us, we just try to make sure that we’re adhering to all the different protocols that we get from the league,” Patricia said. “They’re giving us great information. We’re trying to stay diligent about that and making sure as that moves into different directions that we’re on top of it. We’re modifying what we do too, just to stay safe from that accord. I think the guys did a good job through camps, certainly coming back from all the different places that they were training in the springtime. Through the course of the season, we’ll just be flexible and handle whatever we have to handle as it goes forward.”