An already leaky Falcons defense will be without a key piece in Sundays game against the Bears. And that’s if a BEST CASE SCENARIO follows this news.
From ESPN’s Adam Schefter:
Falcons got the news about CB A.J. Terrell's test today; it was from a test he took Friday morning. Terrell practiced Friday. Now immediate contact tracing goes into effect, per league protocols, but the Falcons have not gotten any other positive test results. https://t.co/0mqy9dNLUG
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 26, 2020
Rookie cornerback A.J. Terrell is going on the reserve/COVID list after a positive test. This designation makes him OUT for Sunday’s game against the Bears. And as Schefter notes, Terrell is the league’s first player to miss a game because of COVID. This was always going to happen at some point, and hopefully Terrell and his family will be OK.
What’s most concerning is that Terrell practiced with the team before he knew he’d already tested positive. We’ve seen in baseball that, when this happens, an entire team can be shut down for two to three days for contact tracing and additional testing. This hasn’t happened yet with the NFL, so we’ll see how it proceeds. A postponement or cancellation of tomorrow’s game – as extreme as that sounds – is probably not entirely off the table, especially if any additional positives pop up today or tomorrow morning. Maybe a push to at least Monday for safety?
We’ll just hope that Terrell had limited exposure to his teammates, and there’s a safe way to proceed with the game in a way that doesn’t risk additional exposure to Falcons players or Bears players. Spread among teams is the worst case scenario.
As for the football implications, assuming the game goes forward, this is really bad news for the Falcons.
Atlanta’s defense is already in rough shape to begin with entering the weekend. Not only are the Falcons coming off a game in which they allowed 40 points to the Cowboys, defensive backs Kendall Sheffield and Ricardo Allen have already been ruled out. Additionally, pass-rushers Takk McKinley (groin) and Dante Fowler Jr. (ankle) are both listed as questionable. All things considered, this Falcons defense is asking to be picked apart.
Let’s hope – for so many reasons – the Bears get a chance to do it safely tomorrow.
UPDATE: Here’s part of how the contact tracing will go, and it could put the Falcons and the NFL in a much better spot to proceed unimpeded tomorrow:
All NFL players and other Tier 1/2 individuals wear tracking devices all day in the facility, so contact tracing is a relatively easy process. If no one was within 6 feet for 15+ straight minutes, tests positive or shows symptoms, no impact on anyone else’s status for game day. https://t.co/jR6G2Qn0Cq
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 26, 2020
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.