NFL News and Notes: A New Wave of Cases

Between players getting involved in protests and the league trying to get moving amidst the pandemic, there is a lot going on in the NFL right now. Let’s try to get caught up on everything from the past few days.

A wave of positive coronavirus cases hit the NFL on Monday, all coming from the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans. Reports indicate that a small number of players from both teams tested positive, including Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott.

It’s unclear how the players contracted COVID-19, as only players rehabbing injuries are being allowed at team facilities right now. Meanwhile, Elliott was puzzled as to why he was publicly named, referencing on Twitter the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which prevents medical information from being shared without patient consent. With this story still developing, there are a lot of questions, but few answers.

The Big Test

Speaking of positive tests, a spokesperson from the NFLPA says that players will be tested for COVID-19 three times a week during the season. The union’s medical director Thom Mayer adds that saliva tests should be available when players report to training camp in July. Meanwhile, the league is still determining the protocol for how positive tests will be handled during the season, as Mayer is confident there will be some players who come back positive.

Stadium Half Full

Whether fans will be in NFL stadiums is still unclear, but the Cowboys and Texans may be able to fill stadiums at least halfway up. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said he expects college football teams in the Lone Star State to have stadiums at half capacity, which could be an indicator for what the Cowboys and Texans will be allowed to do. However, the NFL is yet to say how it will handle that topic or what will happen if some teams are allowed to have fans present while others aren’t based on local regulations.

Stay a While

In actual football news, the San Francisco 49ers have given head coach Kyle Shanahan a contract extension that will keep him in San Francisco through the 2025 season. Just 40 years old, Shanahan now has the longest contract of any active NFL coach after leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl last season.

Early Loss

It appears the Philadelphia Eagles have already lost offensive lineman Brandon Brooks for the 2020 season. Brooks ruptured his left Achilles at the team’s facility, where he was rehabbing a shoulder injury he suffered in Week 17 last year that kept him out of the playoffs. He suffered the same injury to his right Achilles in the 2018 playoffs.

Brooks is a three-time Pro Bowler and considered a big part of the Philadelphia offensive line. The Eagles were already set to enter the season with two new starters along the offensive line, and now it looks like that’ll be three with backup Matt Pryor in line to take over for Brooks at right guard.

Don’t Speak for Me

J.J. Watt is a strong man, and he had strong words this week for a twitter user who assumed he would not be kneeling for the national anthem this season. Watt caused a stir when he responded by saying “don’t speak for me” before adding: “if you still think it’s about disrespecting the flag or our military, you clearly haven’t been listening.”

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