INDIANAPOLIS – Frank Reich can’t enjoy a day – really enjoy it – until he gets a message from Dave Hammer.
The Indianapolis Colts head coach and infection control officer is the bearer of the big news. Good and bad.
The message that Reich hopes to hear?
Hey, we’re all clear on testing.
“Then it’s a little easier every day,” said Reich on Thursday.
That is, without a doubt, the mindset of every head coach. While the NFL is on its stretch drive – the 8-6 Colts visit the 10-4 Arizona Cardinals in Glendale on Christmas night – so much depends on how a team deals with COVID-19.
On Wednesday, the Colts put cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, Defensive End Kemoko Turay and Training Squad Tight End Farrod Green on the COVID-19 list.
On Thursday they added starting legal protection Mark Glowinski.
Quenton Nelson’s status was uncertain after missing training on Wednesday due to illness, but the left all-pro security guard was full on Thursday.
Center Ryan Kelly (personal matter) and safety Andrew Sendejo (concussion) were banned from the Cardinals game, but not the COVID-19 cases.
“They don’t expect to get them back,” said Reich. “That is theoretically possible, but not likely.”
Linebacker Zaire Franklin was added to the COVID-19 list on December 13 but tested negative in time to return to the active list for Saturday’s win against New England.
Kelly missed the Houston game on week 13 after testing positive.
Reich admitted that there are anxious moments every day until Hammer delivers the medical update.
“There’s a healthy tension in which, ‘Hey, we’re going to do everything (possible),”‘ he said. “You are worried. In any case, it seems like a lot has happened there.
“Especially when it gets later in the week, you just hope and pray that nothing will happen.”
Reich turned to the players again on Thursday.
“We were just talking to the players, ‘Hey, this is it. It’s a virus. We can only do what we can. When it happens, it happens, ”he said.
“When boys go down, it has to be the next man and we have to roll. There are no excuses. We have to find ways to win. “
There are strict protocols in place and players are encouraged to do everything possible to limit the risk of infection. The team has not suggested that vaccinated players avoid family gatherings or other high-risk events during the holidays.
“We give them strong suggestions and guidelines, tell them what we think works,” said Reich. “I think our boys are doing a great job. I think they understand what’s at stake, especially what time of year.
“I think we take responsibility for it.”
Other teams undoubtedly do the same, but so many are nonetheless exhausted from positive COVID-19 cases.
It seems so much depends on which positions and players are involved:
Cleveland’s game against Las Vegas was postponed to Monday when 20 players, including 10 starters, and head coach Kevin Stefanski tested positive. The Browns had to turn to third quarterback Nick Mullens in a game that had a huge impact on the playoffs when starter Baker Mayfield and backup Case Keenum were added to the COVID-19 list. They lost 16:14 at Daniel Carlson’s 48-yard field goal after time ran out.
Startcenter JC Tretter was on the virus list Thursday, the day after Startcornerback Greg Newsome II tested positive.
Washington’s game in Philadelphia – another game with a significant impact on the playoffs – was postponed to Tuesday due to 13 players and seven assistant coaches on the virus list. This included founding QB Taylor Heinicke and backing up Kyle Allen. Washington signed Garrett Gilbert of the New England training team, and he started four days later. Washington lost 27-17.
The next day, Eagles trainer Nick Sirianni tested positive.
New Orleans added nine players to the COVID-19 list on Thursday, including QB Taysom Hill and Backup Trevor Siemian. Rookie Ian Book is set to make his NFL debut against Miami on Monday night. The emergency QB: Alvin Kamara running back.
The Baltimore Ravens had dropped to 13 defensive players for Thursday’s training. Ahead of Sunday’s critical showdown with Cincinnati, 19 players are on the COVID-19 list, including nine defenders.
The Houston Texans have 20 players on the virus list.
The Minnesota Vikings put leading rusher Dalvin Cook on their COVID-19 list on Thursday.
Kansas City isn’t sure whether wide receiver Tyreek Hill or tight end Travis Kelce will be available to meet Pittsburgh on Sunday. Both are on the COVID-19 list.
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