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Sunday's NFL: League’s players are working in solitude

Teresa M. Walker
Associated Press

Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Dennis Kelly has been hunkered down with his family in the Indianapolis area since the birth of his third daughter a month ago.

He has been self-isolating since before the spread of COVID-19, the coronavirus.

Titans offensive tackle Dennis Kelly has been hunkered down with his family in the Indianapolis area since the birth of his third daughter a month ago. That makes dealing with the coronavirus a bit easier for Kelly, one of hundreds of NFL players who have self-isolated while the league sorts through what's next.

“We’re already kind of in a self-imposed quarantine on our own, because with a new baby and not having shots and everything like that, especially with it being winter and how bad the flu was this year,” said Kelly, one of hundreds of NFL players who are self-isolating while the league sorts through what’s next. “We’re in week four already of kind of being separated. For most of society, obviously it’s even more extreme.”

Though it’s the offseason for the NFL, the need for social distancing and self-isolation by the pro football community was driven home when New Orleans coach Sean Payton announced Thursday he was the first in the NFL to test positive.

NFL players usually use this time to prepare for offseason programs that traditionally start in April. With those programs delayed indefinitely, players are trying to stay connected with teammates via group chats and social media. Workouts also are an issue with more gyms closing, though some players have their own equipment at home.

New Orleans Saints long snapper Zach Wood, who signed an extension just before free agency started, lives in an apartment and has been staying away from gyms in Dallas. His workouts involve push-ups, pull-ups and squats and now more running outside.

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“I’m just like a sprinkler throwing sweat everywhere, which is disgusting, so I guess I better start going outside and finding ways to do something in the park or on a trail or something because the apartment is just not having it for me,” Wood said. 

Ryan Tannehill, who received a four-year, $118 million contract from Tennessee, normally would be busy lining up workouts with wide receivers to start honing their chemistry and timing.

“Guys getting on planes right now is not a good situation,” said Tannehill, who is also doing some personal training while sticking around the house with two children and enjoying more home-cooking by wife Lauren. “Hopefully as a nation we can kind of get this thing turned around, flatten the curve so to speak, and start moving forward.”

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the virus. 

According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

Cornerback A.J. Bouye is one of the players facing the challenge of changing teams during isolation after being traded by Jacksonville to Denver. The group chats Tannehill and Kelly use to stay in touch aren’t easy for a player with new teammates. 

Taking care of his family is at the top of Bouye’s to-do list. His daughters are in a different state, and Bouye, who’s continuing to work out at his home gym in Atlanta, also focused is on his parents and other relatives.

“Once we get everything situated with that, we just have to monitor when we could go back,” Bouye said. “One thing about it, I’m just focused more on working out also. I have everything set up at home. My trainer is with me, so I’m definitely good with that.”


Personnel dept.

The Patriots have reached an agreement with former Lions linebacker Brandon Copeland on a one-year deal, the Providence Journal reported. The 28-year-old is certainly familiar to the Pats as he spent the last two seasons with the Jets.

... Brian Hoyer (Michigan State) has agreed to a one-year deal to return to New England, the Providence Journal reported. This is Hoyer's third stint with the Patriots.

... Two people with direct knowledge of the contract say the Jets and cornerback Pierre Desir have agreed to terms on a one-year deal, the AP reported.

The 29-year-old defensive back spent the past three seasons with Indianapolis, where he had 161 total tackles.

... The Seahawks continue to stockpile offensive linemen in free agency, agreeing to terms with former first-rounder Chance Warmack, the Associated Press reported.

... The Buccaneers restructured tight end Cameron Brate’s contract for this season, allowing the team to keep one of its top red-zone targets over the past several years while gaining added salary-cap flexibility.

... Cornberback Darius Slay, traded from the Lions to Eagles last week, said he will wear No. 24 this season in honor of late Lakers star Kobe Bryant.