JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jaguars coach Doug Marrone doesn’t know why his team has had more players placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list than any other NFL franchise. He does believe, however, that it’s not because his players aren’t taking the virus seriously.
They’re following the protocols set forth by the NFL and NFLPA, wearing the tracing devices, and working out in smaller groups, he said. But as of Monday morning the Jaguars have had 12 players placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list since tracking began last week, including starting quarterback Gardner Minshew.
“Some of the things that occur can happen to any of us,” Marrone said Monday. “I mean, Tad [Dickman, the team’s director of public relations] tests positive tomorrow, I’m out for the day tomorrow [because] I’ve been in contact with Tad. Those things occur and I think that these lessons that we’re learning now is something that’s going to actually be more beneficial for us when the season comes.
“I don’t think anyone’s being negligent. I really don’t believe that. Everyone understands what’s at stake, a roster spot or what’s going on or missing time. But I really can’t answer those questions. Guys are coming from all over the country. … You’ve just got to be aware of your surroundings and where you are and there’s a lot of different ways that you can come in contact with this virus. I feel good, I really do, about how we’re trying to educate our players and I feel good about how they’re responding. Sometimes it’s just bad luck.”
Florida is one of the nation’s hot spots for the virus, second only to California in total number of coronavirus cases (481, 668 per the CDC as of Monday morning). Duval County ranks sixth in the state in total number of cases (21,665), but the five counties higher on the list are the five most-populous counties in the state, per the U.S. Census: Miami-Dade, Broward (Fort Lauderdale), Palm Beach, Hillsborough (Tampa), and Orange (Orlando).
Yet the Miami Dolphins have had six players and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had three players placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list as of Monday morning. The Jaguars are the only team in double digits. Minnesota and Detroit are second with eight, including Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.
There have been 84 players placed on the list as of Monday morning and seven teams have had no players on the list.
To be placed on the list a player has to either test positive or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive. Minshew, along with roommates Michael Walker and Andrew Wingard, was placed on the list on Sunday, but Marrone said Monday that he thinks Minshew will be available soon.
There are different protocols in place for what a player must do to come off the list depending on whether they were experiencing symptoms or not, including receiving two negative test results separated by more than 24 hours. It’s also possible for a player to be placed on the list and removed in consecutive days, especially if they were placed on the list because they were in contact with someone that did test positive.
Marrone said he believes that what teams are learning in regards to how to limit exposure, what do to do with players that are exposed, and how to adapt when players are quarantined for a period of time (asymptomatic players can still participate in virtual meetings) gives him confidence that they’ll be better prepared to handle similar situations when the players are back on the field and practicing with pads and during the season.
The number of players placed on the list before they’ve even had contact practices isn’t causing him to worry about whether the NFL can have a full season.
“I don’t try to look so far ahead because I don’t know what this virus can do or pick up or however it may go,” he said. “What I look at is what we’re doing right now safety-wise. And again, there’s constant communication with the league and the doctors and we’re constantly trying to create an environment that’s safer and safer. When I see that, I obviously feel pretty good. If I didn’t feel good, I wouldn’t be here if I thought it was a high risk. I think that’s what a lot of us are going through.
“We appreciate the amount of work, the amount of time that has been put into these protocols that have been put in place for our safety. Even though that we understand that there’s a risk, each and every day you’ve got to evaluate that.”