When the NFL changed its COVID testing policy last week so only targeted players would be subject to testing, speculation was that players would not disclose symptoms for fear of missing time.
With the Detroit Lions, that has proven not to be the case.
Lions quarterback Jared Goff indicated in his weekly interview with 97.1 WXYT-FM that he self-reported the cold-like symptoms that led him to take a COVID test Monday.
Goff tested positive for COVID-19 and was placed on the reserve/COVID list.
The Lions likely will play Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons without their starting quarterback — every Lions player to test positive for COVID has missed at least one game this season.
But Lions coach Dan Campbell said Goff should be commended for doing the right thing.
“We’ve already had a couple guys that have tested,” Campbell said. “They don’t quite know, is it a cold, because they have a child on the way. Worried about their wife. And so those are things that you don’t want lose sight of. There’s still that, ‘Hey, man, it’s one thing for me to get it but I’m thinking about my family, too.’ So that’s a real thing.
“So I think what Goff did, I think that was the first thing he thought of. It wasn’t the fact I feel sick and I don’t feel good. I think it was, ‘Man, I don’t want to spread this somebody that’s really worried about this or could affect them or their family.’ So look, I think that’s good.”
The Lions activated safety Jalen Elliott off the reserve/COVID list Wednesday, but still have six players in COVID protocols: Goff, offensive lineman Matt Nelson, injured receiver Quintez Cephus and practice squad defensive players Nickell Robey-Coleman, Corey Ballentine and Tavante Beckett.
Goff is isolating away from the team, but Campbell said he still is preparing as if he will play Sunday by attending meetings virtually and studying film at home.
Under the NFL’s new guidelines, vaccinated players can return as soon as the day after they test positive for the virus so long as they are asymptomatic and their viral load is above a certain benchmark.
Previously, players were required to quarantine for a minimum of 10 days, though vaccinated players could return sooner if they produced two negative COVID tests at least 24 hours apart.
Goff is vaccinated.
“We have a seat laid out, his seat, and there’s the iPad so it’s like he’s there, I guess,” Campbell said. “Congratulate him on the last game, gave him a game ball, good job. And then same thing in the meeting. It’s like he’s there, he’s got the plan at home right now, he’s looking at it and it’s kind of like when he had the flu a couple weeks ago. We had the iPad out there as the plays were getting called and run, so it’s like he’s here as much as he can be without actually being in the building.”
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The Lions had 13 players test positive for COVID in a 15-day span, but Campbell said he knew of no new cases before practice.
Still, Campbell said the Lions have contingency plans in place in the event the outbreak spreads to him or his coaching staff.
Assistant head coach Duce Staley would handle game day coaching duties if Campbell was sidelined by the virus, and Anthony Lynn and Dom Capers are next in line to call plays on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
“We’re trying to be as smart as possible,” Campbell said. “We still congregate, but we’re trying to be mindful. Staying away from each other. We’re still masking up, even though technically it’s not required because we’re all vaccinated and boostered. But we’re trying to be mindful of it, and when we’re around our players, too. Just to hopefully eliminate some of that, because certainly you can still have symptoms and get sick and feel, man, I need to test and now you’re down and then you potentially spread it and it affects everybody differently.”