Several asymptomatic, vaccinated NFL players said to test positive for COVID-19

Rob Maaddi
AP Pro Football Writer

Several asymptomatic, vaccinated NFL players tested positive for COVID-19 on the first day of “targeted” testing, a person familiar with the results told The Associated Press on Monday.

Overall, 47 players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the most in a single day since the pandemic began. The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because of privacy issues, didn’t specify how many of the players are asymptomatic and fully vaccinated.

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce

Chiefs star tight end Travis Kelce, Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa and Lions quarterback Jared Goff are among the players who landed on the reserve list. Bosa will miss this week’s game, according to coach Brandon Staley.

Players who test positive must quarantine until they’re cleared to return. Under the NFL’s revised protocols which went into effect Monday, asymptomatic, vaccinated players can return in less than 10 days.

Kelce, cornerback Charvarius Ward and kicker Harrison Butker tested positive. All played last Thursday night against the Chargers, when Kelce had a career-high 191 yards receiving and caught the tying touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and the winner in overtime.

Kansas City already has defensive tackle Chris Jones, wide receiver Josh Gordon and linebacker Willie Gay Jr. on the list.

Also added with Goff were Detroit receiver Quintez Cephus and tackle Matt Nelson.

Other Chargers added were DBs Trey Marshall, Kemon Hall and Tevaughn Campbell, linebacker Chris Rumph, center Corey Linsley and WR Andre Roberts.

New England was hit hard as WR Kendrick Bourne, LBs Harvey Langi and Cameron McGrone, and DE Ronnie Perkins went on the list.

Philadelphia saw starting guard Landon Dickerson and backup tackle Andre Dillard added, meaning they could miss Tuesday night’s game.

Jets right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who opted out last year to work on the pandemic’s front lines, was asked about the chances some players might try to conceal their symptoms in order to continue playing.

“Of course that’s the down side, and I guess we’ll know more in the next week and we’ll see after next Sunday what really happened in terms of the number of cases and everything,” said Duvernay-Tardif, who has a doctorate in medicine and a master’s in surgery. “I just hope that guys are going to be honest with themselves, because at the end of the day they’re putting me at risk as a player who’s following the rules and the guidelines because they’re going on the field with symptoms.

“We’re all in this together. The goal is obviously to finish the season and play all the games, but it’s also to stay healthy, so I think we’ve just got to be honest with ourselves.”

Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai cleared COVID-19 protocols and will call plays against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night.

Desai tested positive last week, as did offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and special teams coordinator Chris Tabor. It was unclear if Lazor or Tabor would work the game. The Bears said Saturday quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo would serve as offensive coordinator if Lazor is out, and assistant special teams coordinator Brian Ginn would fill in for Tabor if he is not cleared.

The Bears also had 14 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list as of Monday afternoon, including receiver Allen Robinson, cornerback Jaylon Johnson, safety Eddie Jackson and backup quarterback Andy Dalton.

Cleveland, which was lost 16-14 to Las Vegas on Monday – a game moved from Saturday because of the Browns’ COVID-19 outbreak – started third-string quarterback Nick Mullens with Baker Mayfield and his backup, Case Keenum, both out while in coronavirus protocols.

Only one Cleveland starter, safety John Johnson III, was activated from the protocols before the game Monday.

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski was also out after he tested positive last week, when a slew of positive tests tore into Cleveland’s roster. Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer served as Cleveland’s interim head coach and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt handled play-calling duties.

Two other games were moved from Sunday to Tuesday night: Washington at Philadelphia and Seattle at the Los Angeles Rams. Washington and the Rams had the major COVID-19 outbreaks that forced those games to be moved.