Another Lions opponent is dealing with a COVID-19 scare, but Sunday’s game still on

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
| Detroit Free Press

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The Detroit Lions game against the Jacksonville Jaguars remains on for Sunday after a Jaguars practice squad player tested positive for COVID-19.

The Jaguars said in a statement they confirmed the positive test Friday night and will work remotely Saturday.

Both the Jaguars and the NFL said they plan to play Sunday’s game as scheduled, and the Lions are going ahead with their travel plans to Florida.

“As a precautionary measure for today, we made the decision to conduct our football activities remotely while following NFL protocols and recommendations,” the Jaguars said in a statement. “This decision was made in consultation with the NFL and the team’s medical advisors. The health and safety of our players, coaches and staff, as well as their families, is our top priority.”

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The NFL has dealt with a rising number of COVID-19 positives in recent weeks that have postponed games and shuffled the schedule.

The New England Patriots placed center James Ferentz on the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday and briefly shut down their building, but reopened it again Saturday after taking further precautions.

The Atlanta Falcons and Indianapolis Colts also briefly closed their building this week after positive COVID-19 tests.

Games this weekend involving all three teams, the Patriots, Falcons and Colts, remain on for Sunday.

Several Lions players this week expressed concern about the rise in positive COVID-19 tests, but none expressed any doubt about playing.

“It’s a hell of a situation because, honestly, for me, for example, I have a pregnant wife. My son’ll be here in a month or so, so it’s tough in that aspect,” Lions safety Tracy Walker said Thursday. “But at the same time, man, I love football. And honestly, with the NFL (putting protocols in place), I feel like if you take care of what you can control and you do more, I feel like you’ll be fine. I feel like they have regulations and they have rules set in place so that these things don’t continue to happen, and thank God for the Detroit Lions. We’ve been doing pretty great. We’ve been doing everything in our power just to stay out of the way with the COVID situation.”

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The Lions have not had a player test positive for the coronavirus since the start of training camp, but this is the second straight game in which they’ve had a day-before COVID-19 scare.

In Week 4 game, New Orleans Saints fullback Michael Burton received news of a positive test after traveling to Detroit. Burton was re-tested twice, both tests came back negative, and he played 27 snaps in the Saints’ 35-29 win over the Lions.

Lions coach Matt Patricia said after that game there was no talk within the organization about not playing and that “the league obviously has policies and procedures in place to make sure everybody’s safe and we just go play.”

Former Lions cornerback Darius Slay said earlier this month the NFL “shouldn’t have played” its season amidst a pandemic.

Asked about those comments this week, Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye said the recent outbreak “definitely raises questions.”

“It’s just a tough situation being, having to abide by bubble-like restrictions not in a bubble,” he said. “But I think it just comes down to just individually guys just making that sacrifice, making sure you’re in the right place and not putting yourself at risk and putting your teammates at risk. It’s a tough situation going on, but I just feel like we just, guys got to just manage it as best they can and then just try to get through with this season. Hopefully, it gets better after everything that’s been going on.”

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Lions content. 

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