CHARLOTTE — The Carolina Panthers on Wednesday entered the NFL’s intensive protocol after Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Marlon Davidson was placed on the league’s reserve/COVID-19 list.
The Falcons placed Davidson on the list on Tuesday, two days after losing to the Panthers (3-2) in Atlanta. A source told ESPN’s Vaughn McClure that Davidson tested positive for the coronavirus.
The intensive protocol, according to a memo sent out by the NFL on Oct. 1, requires teams potentially exposed to the coronavirus to implement the following precautions:
- In addition to daily testing, all players Tier 1 and 2 must receive daily rapid point of care tests and test negatively before entering the facility;
- All meetings must occur virtually;
- Whenever possible, activities such as practice will take place either outdoors or in large, open spaces;
- Personal protection equipment such as facemasks or shields must be worn on the practice field by players and staff at all times;
- Gloves also should be worn on the field for all players except quarterbacks (Note: Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater always wears gloves on both hands);
- The weight room will be limited to no more than 10 players at any time regardless of the size of the room;
- The facility will be deep cleaned daily;
- No team or player gatherings or group football activities will be permitted away from the facility.
The rules basically are what the Minnesota Vikings followed after their Week 3 game against the Tennessee Titans, who the next week had an outbreak of COVID-19 cases.
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No Minnesota player tested positive after the Titans game and the Vikings did not miss a game.
On Thursday, ESPN reported that the Falcons were shutting down their facility after multiple positive COVID-19 tests.
The Panthers did not cancel Wednesday’s practice but did push it back to 1:45 p.m. instead of the typical noon start time.
Head coach Matt Rhule said he sees the biggest challenge as not only must all coaches and staff wear masks at practice, but all players must also wear a mask or faceshield.
“I had a couple players say to me ‘Wow, I respect you coaches for having had to do this the whole time,' but all those things are minor at the expense of safety and making sure everyone here is safe,” Rhule said.
The Panthers were not in pads Wednesday because Rhule said he wanted the players to get used to wearing masks. They will be back to wearing pads Thursday with masks.
At this point, no Carolina player has been placed on the COVID-19 list since Sunday. Officials said this is a five day protocol, barring any setbacks.
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