- Las Vegas Raiders’ right tackle Trent Brown has tested positive for COVID-19 and is listed as OUT for Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay.
- The entire Raiders’ starting offensive line has been sent home due to contact tracing protocol. They are listed as QUESTIONABLE.
- The NFL has moved the Raiders/Bucs game out of prime time due to the COVID-19 issues.
Yesterday I suggested that there should be more clarity on the status of the Las Vegas Raiders’ COVID-19 issues by this afternoon. That doesn’t appear to be the case. As expected, Raiders’ right tackle Trent Brown has been downgraded to OUT due to his positive COVID-19 test. The bigger issue is the status of the five players that are currently in quarantine due to the league’s contact tracing protocol.
Brown’s positive test was reported on Tuesday morning and shortly thereafter his starting offensive line teammates–Kolton Miller, Gabe Jackson, Denzelle Good and Rodney Hudson–as well as safety Johnathan Abram were sent home from the Raiders’ practice facility in Henderson. They have since been deemed ‘high risk contacts’ and added to the COVID-19 reserve list. Even so, there isn’t much clarity on the extent of their risk. They’ve been listed as QUESTIONABLE on the NFL injury report.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Brown had been ‘lax in wearing his mandatory tracking monitor’. That significantly complicated the process of identifying who he had been in close contact with. It forced the Raiders to ‘err on the side of caution’ and consider his OL teammates and Abram as ‘high risk’. According to the RJ report, the players are being quarantined for five days from their last known contact with Brown. That came on Monday which means that the players would not be allowed back into team facilities until the end of their quarantine period and subject to testing negative and remaining asymptomatic.
This means that the earliest the five ‘questionable’ players could be cleared would be Sunday morning. Even if they are cleared under league COVID-19 protocol they haven’t practiced all week and would have just a few hours to prepare to face Tampa Bay. Ultimately, it would be a ‘no win’ situation for the Raiders. Best case scenario, they’d have 4/5 of their starting offensive line playing with no practice time or preparation. Worst case scenario, they’re without the entire offensive line.
The game remains off the board at many sportsbooks in Nevada and elsewhere. There’s a better than average chance that it could end up being postponed until Monday or Tuesday. According to ‘sources’, however, the league wouldn’t reschedule the game unless more Raiders tested positive for COVID-19. The NFL is at least planning for the possibility of a postponement since they’ve moved the Bucs/Raiders game out of prime time to a 1:05 Pacific/4:05 Eastern start. They’ve swapped in the matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals originally slated for Sunday afternoon. The NFL press release indicated the move was made ‘out of an abundance of caution’ to make sure that a game would be available for the Sunday prime time timeslot.
No matter what happens with the status of the four Las Vegas offensive linemen and safety Abram, there’s no guarantee the league would postpone the game even if the Raiders were forced to play without their entire starting offensive line. Several in the Las Vegas media have pointed out that forcing the Raiders to play without an entire position group puts other players at risk, not the least of which would be quarterback Derek Carr and running back Josh Jacobs:
If you can anticipate a potentially dangerous situation beforehand, as with the Raiders and their missing line and those skill players this might affect, it’s the sensible and correct thing to be proactive and postpone the game.
There is also talk that the Raiders might be the next team to face significant discipline from the NFL for their failure to adhere to the league’s strict COVID-19 protocols. The Raiders might not have done as lousy of a job as the Tennessee Titans but they’ve not been anywhere near as vigilant as they should have been.