The COVID-19 outbreak spreading through the NFL finally caught up to the Seahawks Thursday as the team announced it had placed receiver Tyler Lockett and running back Alex Collins on the COVID-19 reserve list. Both tested positive.
This came on what was another day of rapidly advancing news around the league of players placed on the reserve list and the league attempting to enact protocols designed to ensure that games can still be played this weekend.
As of the official NFL transactions released at 2 p.m. Seattle time, 26 more players were placed on the COVID reserve list Thursday, bringing to 120 placed on the list since Monday.
And a few hours after the news of Lockett and Collins going on the list was announced, Seattle’s opponent Sunday, the Los Angeles Rams, announced they had placed nine more players on the list, including standout defensive end Von Miller.
That brought the number of Rams on the list to 25, including standout receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
Indications were that the league hoped to play all games as scheduled this weekend, even as teams continued to add players to the list Thursday during a week when more players had been put on the list than at any time since the pandemic began.
Seattle plays Sunday at 1:25 p.m. against the Rams in Los Angeles.
There had been 96 players placed on the list around the league from Monday through Wednesday, the highest three-day total in the past two seasons. But none had been Seahawks, and Seattle was one of six teams as of Wednesday afternoon not listed as having a player currently on the list.
Before Thursday, the Seahawks had only one other player on the list this year, tight end Gerald Everett, who missed two games in October.
Lockett and Collins — Seattle’s leading receiver and rusher — have been confirmed as being vaccinated.
Lockett told reporters in June that he had gotten vaccinated, saying while he didn’t want to tell teammates what to do, “I made the best decision that was right for me and my family. And so I ended up getting it. But all I can do is just tell them what I know and tell them why I decided to get it. But I can’t force somebody what they want to do with their life.”
Under new protocols announced by the NFL Thursday, both Lockett and Collins could still play against the Rams and have an easier path to doing so than before.
Previously, players who were asymptomatic and vaccinated needed negative tests at least 24 hours apart to be able to play, but with the tests coming before game day.
Under protocols announced Thursday, vaccinated players who are asymptomatic can return to team activities with as few as one negative test plus a negative rapid-result test.
Or, as NFL.com — the league’s official media arm — put it: “The NFL provided three testing options for a fully vaccinated individual to return provided he or she is asymptomatic for at least 24 hours. In the updated protocols, an individual’s return from quarantine is possible as soon as the day after his or her initial positive test.”
An NFL spokesman confirmed that the new guidelines would apply to Lockett and Collins, potentially making it easier for them to get cleared to play Sunday.
The Seahawks will not leave for Los Angeles until Saturday, as is the custom for games against teams in the Pacific and Mountain time zones. The NFL clarified Thursday that the players would have to be cleared by the day before the game in order to play, meaning 1 p.m. Saturday for Lockett and Collins.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said that he had talked to Lockett and that “he’s feeling pretty good.”
Asked if there is potential for Lockett to play Sunday, Wilson said: “I’m hoping that there is potential, but who knows? We will see.”
The loss of Lockett for Sunday’s game — pivotal to Seattle’s chances of making the playoffs — would be big on its own.
Everett seemed to hint that it could be more than just Lockett and Collins impacted throughout the entire team.
“I worry about those guys, Tyler and the receivers, everybody else who’s on the staff that came back with the results,” Everett said. “It’s definitely something tough to deal with on the body and on the mental. We’re going to stay closely connected to those guys.”
The NFL also announced that through Monday all teams must enter new intensive protocols that include all meetings being conducted virtually and restrictions on outside activities.
The Rams’ outbreak caused them to close their facility earlier this week and go into the NFL’s intensive protocols, meaning doing basically everything virtually other than practices. NFL rules require teams to have 44 players on their active roster to play. The Rams did not practice Thursday and had no media availability.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday that the Seahawks would further emphasize their COVID-19 protocols, including the wearing of masks and social distancing.
Under the new NFL protocols, the Seahawks began holding virtual meetings again Thursday. The return to the intensive protocols also means mandatory mask-wearing in team facilities, social distancing, grab-and-go meal service in team cafeterias and no more than 15 people allowed in a weight room at a time.
Everett said many players decided Thursday to get retested.
“We’re trying to do everything the best way we can,” Everett said. “Even today, we adapted to a couple of positive tests. Everybody’s just going to retest and doing everything we can. Just trying to be the best we can be, and now we’re about to transition to practice. We’ll see how that goes.”
Wilson, meanwhile, said he tests himself at home regularly.
“Obviously, we test here and then we test at the house all of the time, constantly,” Wilson said. “It’s pretty much every day at our house, anybody that has come near or gone anywhere. It’s one of those things that has been part of our lifestyle, it’s changed all of our lives in so many ways. I pray that every day we can get better and find ways to keep each other safe.
“I think it’s super important that we all wear our masks as much as possible, stay away from people as much as possible, but at the same time, know that everybody has family members and loved ones. Some are elderly, some are young, some have asthma, may have had cancer, different circumstances, so people’s lives are on the line. We have to protect everybody as much as possible.”
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