With three of their players being moved to the Reserve/Covid-19 list since last Friday, the New England Patriots appear to be on the brink of a possible Coronavirus outbreak. However, they did receive some good news on Thursday morning: as first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the latest round of tests administered on Wednesday came back all-negative.
The Patriots decided to shut down their facilities at Gillette Stadium and also cancel practice on Wednesday and Thursday after cornerback Stephon Gilmore tested positive on Tuesday — one day after traveling with the team to Kansas City and playing all 56 of New England’s defensive snaps against the Chiefs. Gilmore joined quarterback Cam Newton and defensive tackle Bill Murray on the league’s newly created reserve list.
Both Gilmore and Newton remain asymptomatic, which could help them return sooner rather than later: asymptomatic players no longer need to sit out a minimum of five days under the NFL’s newly revised Coronavirus protocols, all they need are two negative tests with 24 hours in between. There is a chance, albeit a small one, that the two starters will be cleared for Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos.
As head coach Bill Belichick pointed out on Thursday, however, the team is taking a day-by-day approach while preparing for the upcoming contest. Today’s report of the negative tests, however, makes it more likely that the game will indeed take place as scheduled.
Of course, New England is far from in the clear as the Tennessee Titans continue to show. The team had its first Covid-19 case on September 24, with a second popping up two days later. The Titans then traveled to Minnesota on September 27, with eight more tests coming back positive the following day. As of today, they are up to 23 confirmed positive cases after three players caught the virus over the last two days.
The Patriots’ situation is nowhere near as bad as the one in Tennessee — especially considering a recent report that the Titans violated protocols — but it is still a concerning one despite Wednesday’s all-negative test results.