Going above NFL’s safety protocols limits Lions’ COVID-19 list to one player

Detroit News

Justin Rogers
| The Detroit News

No one wants to see a player land on the NFL’s COVID-19 reserve list, but if there’s a silver lining to the Detroit Lions placing linebacker Jarrad Davis on it Tuesday afternoon, it’s that he was the only one and the team didn’t need to shut down its facility as it began its week of practice ahead of Sunday’s game in Minnesota.

“We’ve actually modified the building, probably two or three times already,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said. “We always do it on our own to ensure the health and safety of our team, and to try to keep everybody as safe as possible in the building. We’re kind of always going to whatever level we think we need to to accommodate where we are, (and) just, I would say, where the communities are.

“That’s the biggest thing for us is what’s happening in the (community), and we understand that as those numbers increase, we’ll have the opportunities or the situations for us, we have to be more careful in what we do inside the building.”

Earlier this week, Michigan’s seven-day rolling average for new cases was nearly 3,300, the highest it has been since the start of the pandemic. More than 7,400 people from the state have died from the coronavirus.

In the NFL, when a player lands on the COVID reserve list, many teams have needed to temporarily shut down their facilities. Additionally, we’ve regularly seen multiple players from one team end up on the COVID-19 list at once because they were determined to be close contacts. 

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For example, the Baltimore Ravens placed seven defensive players on the list Tuesday after contact tracing determined all seven were around cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who tested positive after Sunday’s game. 

Part of the reason the Lions were able to avoid having to take additional measures was the timing of Davis’ situation.

Although we still don’t know whether he tested positive for the virus or simply knowingly came in close contact with someone who did, the fact that it happened between Sunday’s game and the start of the practice week on Wednesday worked out well for the team, which minimizes in-person contact during those days. 

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“We basically went with a program that we felt was the safest for postgame for us in those situations for Monday and Tuesday, to try to just limit the amount of contact that everybody had with each other until we kind of got back on the testing rhythm,” Patricia said. “If you remember, they actually changed the protocols to also test us on Sunday, which gave us a whole other level of information as we headed into Monday. So, we just try to use all of that that the league has put out there for us, and they’ve given us great guidelines, and I would say that what we try to do is maybe stay one step ahead of those guidelines as far as just on the precautionary level in case something is to happen.”

Additionally, Patricia confirmed no other players would need to quarantine or miss practice Wednesday because of Davis.

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But as cases rise around the league, and in Michigan, the coach plans on staying diligent with educating his team to minimize risk as much as possible. 

“I can’t speak to the future,” Patricia said. “I think that, right now, everybody across the country, especially in Michigan right now, with the cases going up, really no one knows what the next day is going to look like.

“We just have to do the best we can to stay safe today.”


Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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