Bucs’ Bruce Arians to coach Sunday against Jets after clearing COVID protocols

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians and wide receivers coach Kevin Garver have returned to their respective roles, the team announced Saturday.

Earlier in the week, Arians tested positive for COVID-19, but he cleared COVID protocols Saturday.

Assistant head coach/run game coordinator Harold Goodwin served as interim head coach in Arians’ absence.

The Buccaneers will battle the Jets Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

In addition, the Buccaneers have made the following moves for Sunday’s game:

  • Designated running back Kenjon Barner and wide receiver Cyril Grayson as Contagious Disease PracticBucs’ Bruce Arians to coach Sunday against Jetse Squad Elevations

  • Designated punter Sterling Hofrichter and outside linebacker Elijah Ponder as Standard Practice Squad Elevations.

  • Activated cornerbacks Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting from the Reserve/COVID list. Both players are questionable (illness) for the game.

Buccaneers’ Arians tests positive for COVID-19

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently isolating at home, the team announced Tuesday. Assistant Head Coach/Run Game Coordinator Harold Goodwin will serve as interim head coach in Arians’ absence.

“I tested positive for COVID-19 this morning but have only experienced mild symptoms to this point,” said the 69-year-old Arians. “Harold Goodwin will take over my duties during my absence. I have complete confidence in him and the rest of our coaching staff to prepare the team for this week’s game against the Jets. I look forward to rejoining the team and being back in the facility as soon as I can test back in.”

The Buccaneers also placed cornerbacks Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

In addition, Tampa Bay signed outside linebacker Elijah Ponder to the practice squad and released safety Chris Cooper from the practice squad.

Ponder  entered the league as a college free agent with the Buccaneers this offseason. He spent training camp and preseason with Tampa Bay and spent four weeks on the team’s practice squad earlier this season.

The Buccaneers travel to New York to play the Jets on Sunday.

Vikings’ Dennison not fired, talks still ongoing with team

Minnesota Vikings offensive line coach Rick Dennison is still with the team after reports surfaced that he was dismissed due to his refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

On Friday, the Vikings released a statement, and according to the team, talks are still ongoing with Dennison.

“The Vikings continue to hold discussions with Offensive Line Coach Rick Dennison regarding the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 Protocols for training camp and preseason games,” the team said in a statement,” team said. “At this time, Coach Dennison does not have an exemption to the vaccination requirements of those protocols. We will adhere to the requirements of the protocols and of applicable law.”

Dennison’s refusal comes on the heels of the league’s announcement about the possibility of forfeits and loss of game checks if they’re cancellations caused by unvaccinated players.

According to the league, Tier 1 staff members, which includes coaches, are expected to get vaccinated unless they have a religious or medical reason not to do so. Without being vaccinated, coaches will not be able to interact with players on the field or anywhere else at a team’s facility.

The 63-year-old Dennison has been the offensive line coach in Minnesota since 2019 and has been a coach in the NFL for 27 years.

This is an interesting situation for sure. Obviously, some will refuse to take the vaccine, but the NFL, as a private entity, can mandate that their coaches and players get vaccinated. The league has not said that they have to get vaccinated, but they are not making it easy for anybody that doesn’t get it done. 

Vikings’ Cousins talks COVID-19 protocols for training camp, preseason

On Wednesday, the NFL came out with updated COVID-19 protocols for training camp and preseason. As a result, life will look a little different for players and coaches who are vaccinated for the virus and those who are not.

Look at it below:

Based on this list, there seems to be an advantage for vaccinated players and teams that have several of their players vaccinated. Keep in mind, these guidelines are just for training camp and preseason, so they could change when the regular season starts. 

According to Mark Maske of the Washington Post, more than 50% of the league’s players have at least one dose of the vaccine.

On Wednesday, Vikings QB Kirk Cousins was asked whether he was vaccinated and the potential differences that vaccinated and unvaccinated players could experience in 2021.

“I choose to keep my medical history private as with anything else that goes on,” Cousins said on Wednesday. “It’ll be a lot like last year to that degree. We’ve already lived it for one season. It’s a fluid situation and has been since the Covid-19 pandemic began. We’ll take it one week at a time, one month at a time, and see where we are when we get to the season. It’s so important that we focus on football as well and really making sure that we’re winning football games. That’s really what it’ll be about…

“I think people just need to make their own decision and make the one that’s best for them and their families. We’ll let them make their own decision.”

Cousins is correct. This is a fluid situation, but the NFL wants all of its players vaccinated based on these guidelines. It should be interesting to see if these guidelines will encourage players to get vaccinated before the season starts.

Spurs’ Popovich: ‘Considering our positions in this world, we are very, very well off’

The San Antonio Spurs will finally resume their Rodeo Road Trip on Wednesday when they battle the Oklahoma City Thunder. San Antonio was shut down last week after the team did not have enough players due to health and safety protocols. Four San Antonio players tested positive for COVID-19.

San Antonio had three games postponed last week, and Monday night’s game against the Pacers was postponed as well. On Monday, San Antonio practiced for the first time since last week. 

Despite the positive COVID tests and missed games, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich feels fortunate.

“Considering our positions in this world, we are very, very well off,” Popovich said. “Only thank yous for what we have.”

San Antonio will be without the following players when they take the floor against OKC on Wednesday: DeMar DeRozan (death of father), Rudy Gay (health and safety protocols), Keldon Johnson (health and safety protocols), Devin Vassell (health and safety protocols), Quinndary Weatherspoon (health and safety protocols) and Derrick White (health and safety protocols).

Also, F LaMarcus Aldridge(hip) practiced on Monday, and according to the team, his status for Wednesday’s game against Oklahoma City will be updated on Tuesday. 

Getting shut down was bad timing for the Spurs when you consider they had won five of their last six games and playing decent basketball, but with COVID-19 out there, it’s just good to be alive.

Jags’ Schobert on COVID-19: ‘For me, right now, it’s always on the forefront of your mind

After three weeks of no postponements due to COVID-19, the NFL is now starting to get hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, Titans-Steelers was postponed until Week 7, and Patriots-Chiefs was moved to Monday after players tested positive for COVID-19. This week, after more positive tests, the Broncos-Patriots has been moved to Monday night, and the Bills-Titans was moved to Tuesday night. 

With the postponements, there has to be some concern around the league about the NFL’s ability to get through the 2020 season, and on Thursday, Jaguars LB Joe Schobert discussed the influx of positives test for COVID-19 throughout the league.

“It always gives you pause when you see something like this happen,” Schobert said. “Obviously, we’ve luckily been out of that crisis [that] I suppose Tennessee’s dealing with right now and a couple other teams that had some cases pop up. But I mean, it’s just the status of the world right now. We spent the whole offseason, not knowing what we were going to be doing if we were even going to be having a season.

“For me, right now, it’s always on the forefront of your mind because whenever you go and check your phone, you see a news flash of a new guy in Tennessee testing positive or their next week game potentially being postponed or forfeited or whatever the NFL decides to come up with if things keep happening. So, it gives you pause because NFL is our business and getting on the field and playing football is what we do for our living. Obviously, it gives you a moment’s pause, but I think, as professionals and in our environment here in Jacksonville, we just have to keep doing things the way we’ve been doing then.”

In a memo to all 32 clubs, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell warned teams if they don’t follow the league health and safety protocols that games could be forfeited. According to Schobert, if teams have to forfeit games or the season is canceled, it could impact players financially.  

 “Forfeiting games or just canceling the season would obviously not be great because then you don’t get paid for any of those forfeits or [if] the season’s canceled you’re not going to get paid anymore for the season,’ he said. “So, you don’t want it to get to that point because, like I said, it is our job. Obviously, we get paid very well in the entertainment industry as football players. There’s a lot of people out in the world who have normal every day, regular jobs who are being affected and have been affected by this as well. The forfeiture of games and potentially canceling the season is something that’s on your mind just from a financial standpoint and your family’s standpoint.”

The NFL will complete the season, but it won’t be easy, especially as we approach flu season. However, the league will do everything in their power to make it happen, so again, expect the season to be completed.

Castro’s debut is off after trainer tests positive for COVID-19

Marc Castro’s pro debut has been cancelled after the fighter and his father-trainer Tony tested positive for COVID-19.

The Fresno talent had been ready to take his first steps in the paid ranks in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday night, but that will now be put on ice after the receipt of his positive result from his test on the ground in Tulsa yesterday.  Marc and Tony are now under quarantine and are isolated from the other fighters on the card and personnel involved in the show.

All other tests for fighters, their camps and all staff around the event came back negative and the card will go ahead as planned.

“We are all extremely disappointed for Marc that his debut has been postponed following his positive test for COVID-19,” said Dr. Rod Ballelos, Matchroom’s Chief Medical Officer.

“Marc and his father will now be under strict quarantine, and plans are being made to ensure the safety of everyone still involved in the event, as well as to not expose the community and contribute to this already devastating pandemic.”

“While it is upsetting news for all concerned, I believe the strict protocols that we have put in place – ensuring a negative test prior to travel to Tulsa, quarantine upon arrival to the hotel, then tested once again – have proven to be effective. Furthermore, social distancing, religious use of masks, and the sanitary practices we have put in place have also proved that such basic practices do work in preventing the spread of COVID-19.”

Saturday night’s card continues in Castro’s absence, topped by Cecilia Brækhus (36-0 9 KOs) gunning for history in the 26th defense of her undisputed Welterweight crown against unified Super-Lightweight champion Jessica McCaskill (8-2 3 KOs) in the unique setting of the downtown Tulsa streets as Matchroom return Stateside.

Rising Super-Welterweight Israil Madrimov (5-0 5 KOs) can close in on World title honors as he meets Eric Walker (20-2 9 KOs) in a final eliminator for the WBA World title while Madrimov’s fellow countryman Shakhram Giyasov (9-0 7 KOs) will now face Wiston Campos (31-7-6 19 KOs) after second replacement opponent Rey Perez was ruled out following original opponent Francisco Rojo being forced out of the bout after testing positive for COVID-19 during his training camp in his home city, and a pair of young talents complete the card in Nikita Ababiy (8-0 6 KOs) and Raymond Ford (5-0 2 KOs).

Giants’ Daniel Jones explains why he will play in 2020

Players around the NFL are deciding to opt-out of the 2020 NFL season because of concerns about COVID-19. At this point, the New York Giants had three players opt-out: Nate Solder, Da’Mari Scott, and Sam Beal. 

The deadline to opt-out was Thursday at 4 P.M.

Giants QB Daniel Jones, 23, is young and does not have any kids, so for him, playing football during a pandemic is not an issue.

“It’s important to realize that everyone has different circumstances, whether it be family related or personally or whatever it may be,” Jones said via a video conference call on Thursday. “I certainly don’t have those situations. I live by myself, and I’m healthy, but everyone has got to consider their own personal situation, and I certainly respect that and expect people to do that and do what’s best for them and certainly don’t hold that against them. Obviously, Nate (Solder) made a decision to opt-out, and he’s got an extremely tough circumstance, and he’s got to do what’s best for his family. All the respect in the world, all the support in the world to him..

“Like I said, you’ve got to look at everyone individually and personally, and you have no way of knowing exactly what’s going on and why they made that decision. That’s up to them, so like I said, I certainly respect it and support it for all the people who made that decision.”

It’s hard to argue with anybody opting out. To Jones’ point, every player’s situation is different. If you are young and healthy, more than likely, you will beat the coronavirus, so for Jones and many others, you can understand why they’ve decided to play.

Eagles’ Pederson on whether NFL can keep players safe: ‘I’m extremely optimistic’

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced on Sunday. At this time, the 52-year-old Pederson is asymptomatic. According to Pederson, he will run the club “virtually,” and Eagles running backs/assistant head coach Duce Staley will assume the day-to-day activities in the building.

On Monday, Pederson addressed his positive test for COIVD-19 and how he will handle the team while in quarantine.

Pederson: First of all, I appreciate everyone’s well wishes. I had a lot of text messages and phone calls the last 24 hours or so. I know this virus affects people differently, and I am very respectful and mindful of that. I also want everyone to know that I feel great, energy level is high. I really have no symptoms whatsoever, and I am very fortunate because I do know and understand that this virus attacks people a little bit differently. I have been in great communication, constant communication, not only with our medical team and doctors, but also my staff and the team itself.

One of the things I learned this offseason is I can still run the team virtually, and that’s what I have been able to do today, even yesterday, holding staff meetings, things of that nature, team meetings. I also want to reiterate the fact that I’m very comfortable and confident that the protocols that we have in place at NovaCare are for the best interest of the football team and all those that enter that building. It still is a very safe environment, and one of the things that we all need to learn and what I need to learn, taking away from this, is obviously we need to protect ourselves when we are in the community away from the building, continue to wash our hands, wear our mask, do the social distancing that medical teams and doctors have prescribed.

So obviously we’re taking this very seriously around our building, and in our everyday lives, and again, we need to continue to do so. We understand that things like this are going to happen. I have been able to talk to my staff about contingencies not only with players, but also with staff members. I mentioned I believe last week when we got together about this.

So I’m not going to speculate on a timetable for me, I treat it just like players, so I’m not going to speculate on that. When I’m back, I’m back. With that, we will open up for questions, and I hope everybody is doing well and staying safe.”

Q. Glad you’re feeling well. We’re all concerned about you. It sounds like you know that you contracted this outside the NovaCare Complex. Are you pretty confident that that’s the case and what gives you that sense?

PEDERSON: Respectfully, I’m going to say this one time, and I’m going to leave it at that. It’s something that I don’t necessarily want to comment on for myself or speculate on for anyone else. I’m just going to reiterate the fact that I feel very good about the safety of our building and the protocols that we have in place. That’s one thing that I do know and going through this has reinforced that for me at this time.

Q. Glad you’re feeling well and at least showing no symptoms as of now. Talking to some of the players yesterday, they said your message to the team is it’s not just about one guy. When we talk about the contingency plans for the players and for both you coaching virtually, I am curious what you’re trying to tell the guys right now, because it is inevitable, maybe not you testing positive again, but it is inevitable that these players will test positive at some point during this season? 

Pederson: You’re exactly right, and that’s been my message, really, all off-season, when we went virtual way back on March 12, March 13. The message still is we have to protect ourselves, not only in and around the building, but outside the building, as well.

But you know what the thing is, too, is that it’s never been — since I’ve been head coach in Philadelphia, it’s never been about one guy or one group of guys. It’s been about everybody. This is no different. I’m fortunate that this is happening at this time of our season, our training camp at the beginning, and not necessarily say in October, November, where you could miss games. It’s a matter of just protecting each other and our goals don’t change. We’re going to continue to press forward one day at a time.

Q. I know you want to do as much as you can virtually, but does assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley take on a bigger role inside the building, and what is going to happen with that kind of structure? 

Pederson: I do everything I can virtually. I just finished up a bunch of player meetings, group meetings this morning already. Guys are getting ready for a walk-through on the field and yeah, [assistant head coach/running backs coach] Duce [Staley] being the assistant head coach, he just assumes my role, the day-to-day activities in the building.

So he and I talk every single morning. I give him, through communication with him, give him sort of my thoughts on where I’m leading and what I’m thinking, and then he carries that message forward. He’s done a great job so far and will continue that going forward.

Q. Obviously you’re at home. Are you quarantining from the rest of your family, or are you getting the rest of the family tested? Are you concerned about that at all? 

Pederson: Yeah, I’m quarantining away from my family. I’m making sure that I keep my distance from them, and wear my mask, wash my hands, do those things while I’m here at home.

Q. You said last week that there are contingencies for everyone in the organization. How much thought had you put into this possibility before it happened, and does this affect or change the way you’re going to plan those contingencies going forward? 

Pederson: Great question. For me, I have thought a lot about the contingencies and this doesn’t just happen, — I thought, actually, I thought about this quite a bit over the summer, if something like this were to come up, not only with me, but with any of my staff or any of the players.

This is why I feel really, really good about my staff, the guys that I have in place to carry the torch, so to speak, in somebody’s absence and of course in my absence at this time.

The same way with players. I guess you treat it just like if a guy were to get hurt and they are going to miss some time, and you have to have the next guy prepared and ready to go, and this is no different.

Q. I imagine that you have taken safety and had protocols when you are outside and not at the facility, and you got the virus. Does your perspective change at all on your confidence about the NFL and you guys being able to have a season safely and keeping everybody healthy?

Pederson: My confidence hasn’t changed at all. I’m extremely optimistic. I feel like we’re going to play; I’m confident that we are going to play. It’s unfortunate. Like I told my team last night, this virus, it holds no prejudices, right. It doesn’t matter. It can affect any one of us. I’m sure many of you have had family members or people you know or loved ones affected by this virus. So that part of it doesn’t matter.

It’s just the fact that we have to abide by the protocols that are in place. They are in place for a reason, for our safety. Our building is a great place to be. It is a safe place to be for our players and coaches and all who are involved.

So I’m looking forward. It’s full steam ahead for me. I’m itching to get back in the building at some point and be around our players and get these guys ready for a season.

Jaguars place Minshew, four others on COVID-19/Reserve List

The Jaguars have placed QB Gardner Minshew II, RB Ryquell Armstead, TE Charles Jones, WR Michael Walker and S Andrew Wingard on the team’s Reserve/COVID-19 list, the team announced on Sunday.

The Reserve/COVID-19 list is a new reserve category created by the NFL for a player who either tests positive for COVID-19 or who has been quarantined after having been in close contact with an infected person or persons. Clubs are not permitted to comment on a player’s medical status other than referring to roster status. Clubs may not disclose whether player is in quarantine or is positive for COVID-19.

Clubs, club personnel, other players and player-agents are not permitted to disclose a player’s reason for placement on Reserve/COVID-19 or a player’s status with regard to such illness. However, players are permitted to disclose their own medical information.