The Steelers’ Week 4 game at the Tennessee Titans finds itself in jeopardy on Tuesday after eight members of the Titans tested positive for COVID-19 following their win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
Those eight positive tests have resulted in 48 additional individuals requiring additional testing before they can return to work, according to ESPN, and the shut down of the Titans’ facility until at least Saturday.
The Titans may be forced to deal with limited or no team practice time in between Tuesday’s announcement and Sunday’s game, which has prompted the NFL to consider moving it to Monday night.
In the meantime, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to all teams on Tuesday. The memo, acquired by Steelers Now, acknowledges that the league expected that there would be some positive tests as they attempted to play the 2020 season, but that further diligence will be required in order to keep the Titans’ outbreak from impacting entire league.
Earlier today, we learned that three players and five non-player staff at the Tennessee Titans had tested positive for Covid-19. We immediately shared that information with the clubs and the NFLPA and have issued the attached press release.
This is not unexpected; as Dr. Sills and others have emphasized, there will be players and staff who will test positive during the season. In response to these positive tests, we immediately took the following steps under the protocols agreed to with the NFLPA:
• Players and staff who have tested positive will be isolated, carefully monitored, and given all necessary medical care. Per our protocols, family members of these players and staff will also be offered testing as well.
• We have reviewed contact tracing data to identify any close contacts of the players and staff who tested positive; have isolated those individuals; and each will receive additional testing.
• We have contacted the game officials and others who worked at Sunday’s game in Minnesota and will do follow-up testing and monitoring for those individuals.
• We will suspend in-person activities in both Tennessee and Minnesota (the team Tennessee played last weekend) pending further developments. Thus far, there have been no positive tests or reports of symptoms among Minnesota players or staff.
• We are exploring in more detail the nature of the close contacts to determine where they occurred (locker room, flights, etc.), and identify any additional learnings that can be shared with all clubs.
These results confirm the need to remain diligent in implementing all of our health and safety protocols to the fullest extent. This includes not only our testing program, but facility maintenance, wearing of PPE by players and staff, and carefully regulating behavior and contacts outside of the club facility. It is also critical to remind everyone in your organization — players and non-players — immediately to report any symptoms that they have, or that family members or others with whom they arc in close contact have, to your club physician or Infection Control Officer.
In addition, clubs should revisit the steps they have taken to minimize the number of close contacts, particularly while traveling and within position groups, and should review their procedures for bringing in new players for tryouts and possible signing.
Each of us has a special responsibility to keep others safe and healthy. What each of us does affects not only ourselves and our immediate families, but many others on our own club and on other clubs.
NFL Considering Making Roughing the Passer Reviewable
The NFL is considering making roughing the passer calls subject to replay review, according to NFL.com’s Judy Battista.
Battista reports that owners are expected to vote on the potential rule change at the annual league meetings later this month.
There is no denying that roughing the passer calls have become increasingly questionable over recent years, as the league continues to emphasize the protection of its most valuable assets – the quarterbacks.
Still, the concept does conjure painful memories of 2019, when the league tried reviewing pass interference calls. The experiment proved to be an unmitigated disaster, and was scrapped after a single season.
While the new role could remedy some of the infuriating calls the Pittsburgh Steelers defense has been levied with in recent year, the chance could also open up an unintended can of worms.
Reviewing roughing the passer calls is not the only potential rule change the owner will reportedly consider.
According to Battista, owners will also discuss switching overtime back to sudden death, creating an alternative to the onside kick and voting on a rule reportedly proposed by the Buffalo Bills to delay coaching and general manager interviews until the conference championship round.
NFL Insider John Clayton Predicts Steelers Could Cut Joe Haden, Vince Williams
John Clayton, one of the longest tenured NFL Insiders, offered a prediction on how the Steelers will handle their roster in the coming weeks during his weekly appearance on 93.7 The Fan.
When referring to player cuts around the NFL, Clayton said he expects many notable players to be released by their current teams. Clayton proclaimed “it will be a bloodbath around the league” and that could include a couple key veterans being handed their walking papers by the Steelers.
— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) March 3, 2021
Joe Haden and Vince Williams could both be forced to find new teams as soon as next week, according to Clayton. Haden has spent the past 4 seasons in Pittsburgh after spending his first 7 years with the Browns. Williams has played his entire 8-year NFL career with the Steelers after being drafted in the 6th round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
J.J. Watt Explains Cardinals Signing on Adam Schefter’s Podcast
Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt joined The Adam Schefter Podcast on to discuss his decision to sign with the NFC West’s Arizona Cardinals.
While he had numerous suitors across the league, Watt says he was drawn to Arizona by the promise of young quarterback Kyler Murray and his familiarity with defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.
“All the signs pointed there,” Watt said. “There’s a ton of exciting young talent here. In this league you need a quarterback to have a chance, and they’ve got a very talented young quarterback, who can continue to take the next step. Defense, I’m very familiar with Vance Joseph, who was with me down in Houston with Wade Philips early in my career.”
Watt believes the Cardinals are a team on the cusp of greatness, and that he is the piece to finally put them over the top.
“I think it’s just a team ready to grow and take that next step,” Watt added. “You look at the last three years, they’ve continued to increase win totals every year and are on that trajectory. And I’m looking to help fast track that trajectory.”
Schefter also asked Watt if it was ever realistic he would join his brothers T.J. and Derek with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The star defensive end demonstrated his elusiveness, avoiding addressing the idea head on.
“There was a lot of thought given to every single scenario,” he said. “So we could really sit down and look through all the options and speak with all the teams and gather all the information we possibly could. And there were definitely a lot of great options, there were a lot of opportunities to play. But at the end of the day, I’m very, very excited to be here in Arizona.”
The Cardinals now boast one of the league’s top pass-rushing tandems, pairing Watt alongside elite edge rusher Chandler Jones, who has 97 career sacks.
Arizona had the fourth-most sacks in football last season before Watt’s arrival with 48.
Watt exits Houston as one of the greatest players in franchise history. He was selected to five Pro Bowls, named First-Team All-Pro on five occasions and earned three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.
A future Hall of Famer, Watt is the Texans’ all-time leader in sacks (101), tackles-for-loss (172) and forced fumbles (25).
Watt recorded 52 total tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown last season.