The NFL announced that Sunday’s game between the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers has been postponed to either Monday or Tuesday.
In a statement Wednesday the league indicated that a new game date and time will be announced as soon as possible, adding that the postponement will “allow additional time for further daily COVID-19 testing and to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel.”
The postponement follows positive COVID-19 tests among the Titans from four players – starting nose tackle DaQuan Jones, linebacker Kamalei Correa, long-snapper Beau Brinkley and practice squad tight end Tommy Hudson – and five team personnel members this week.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel told ESPN Wednesday that some of the players who tested positive were experiencing flu-like symptoms.
“I know there’s going to be a lot of questions about the game and about who’s to blame and where it started. Nobody’s to blame. We’re in a pandemic,” Vrabel said. “… this is a very unfortunate situation, but one that we’re confident that we will be able to handle safely with the football team and the players’ best interests in mind.”
Vrabel said he expects the Titans to get an opportunity to practice before they face the Steelers.
“We’ll be ready, and we will be focused,” Vrabel said. “This is the way we have to function and operate.”
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill echoed Vrabel’s approach but said they are going to rely heavily on film study, including in meetings with his wide receivers. Vrabel said they held a team meeting virtually Wednesday morning and he showed the Titans video of the Steelers. Players had meetings with their position coaches – all through video conference calls.
“It’s not ideal, but we have to find a way,” Tannehill said. “We have to be able to overcome adversity. It’s just a different type of adversity. We’ve done it throughout this season so far a few weeks in and showed our mental strength that we can find a way to win games, and this is just another challenge along that road.”
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said they are preparing for the game to be played Monday.
“We live one week at a time, and we’ve got an undefeated team that we’re scheduled to face at the end of this week,” Tomlin said. “And so that’s kind of been our focus as we prepare today. It’s been a normal Wednesday for us. Some of the other hypotheticals we choose not to participate in, because we’re trying to be singularly, professionally focused in an effort to put our best foot forward when we step in the stadium against the Titans.”
The Titans have closed their team facilities until Saturday, though Vrabel said the NFL gave approval for players who are in need of treatment to be in the building with athletic trainers.
The Minnesota Vikings, who played the Titans on Sunday, had no positive results in their latest round of coronavirus testing, an NFL spokesperson told ESPN.
After closing their facilities Tuesday, the Vikings were planning to reopen Thursday for their schedule game Sunday at Houston. Vikings head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman said there will be “very enhanced protocols” in place when the facilities reopen, including negative tests from Wednesday and Thursday morning.
Texans coach Bill O’Brien said Wednesday that his team was told by the league to expect to play, adding that the team had its own scare with two “false positives” before playing the Steelers last Sunday.