The Las Vegas Raiders’ latest batch of COVID-19 tests all came back negative and their game scheduled for Sunday against Tampa Bay is on for now.
The Raiders placed two players on the COVID-19 list following positive tests earlier in the week and put five more players on the list because of “high risk” close contacts.
A person familiar with the tests says on condition of anonymity that all the players tested negative in results gotten back Friday morning. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league doesn’t release test results.
“We’re going to play Sunday at 1 o’clock they tell me,” coach Jon Gruden said. “We’ll be ready to go.”
The NFL moved the Raiders game against the Buccaneers from prime time to an afternoon slot on Sunday just in case the game couldn’t be played. The plan is still to play the game Sunday unless the situation changes, even though the Raiders won’t have any starting offensive linemen at practice this week.
The problems arose this week when starting right tackle Trent Brown tested positive for the coronavirus and was placed on the COVID-19 list on Wednesday. The team sent home four other starting offensive linemen, Kolton Miller, Denzelle Good, Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson, as well as safety Johnathan Abram, because of possible close contact with Brown.
Those contacts were later deemed “high risk” and those players were placed on the COVID-19 list on Thursday. If those players remain asymptomatic they must wait five days from their last contact with Brown and test negative each day before they will be allowed to return.
The four linemen had their last close contact on Monday and could be cleared to play Sunday. Abram’s last close contact was Tuesday and can’t clear the protocol before the time of the scheduled game.
Gruden said the linemen have been taking part in virtual meetings all week and there's “a good chance” they will be back soon.
“It’s like having these virtual press conferences,” he said. “You can still get a lot of work done. So we’ve had a good week practice. We’ll be ready to go.”
Raiders cornerback Damon Arnette was moved from injured reserve to the COVID-19 list on Monday following a positive test. That test put the Raiders in the league’s “intensive” protocol, which requires proper distancing and mask wearing at practice.
The league and union are investigating how the Raiders have handled the coronavirus protocols. The person said that Brown was not consistently wearing his tracker, which is used to help determine close contacts, and that the offensive linemen were spotted on video not wearing masks and in close contact at practice.
So for now, the Raiders are preparing for the game with backup linemen Patrick Omameh, John Simpson, Andre James, Brandon Parker and Sam Young, as well as practice squad players Jaryd Jones-Smith, Erik Magnuson and Kamaal Seymour.
Bucs coach Bruce Arians said he's as confident as he can be that his team will be safe during the game on Sunday, but said there likely won't be any interactions between the teams before or after the game.
“It has nothing to do with sportsmanship whether we will shake hands or embrace or anything after the game, just to be cautious,” he said. "Playing the game is one thing, but the mingling and all that stuff after the ballgame, I’ve not talked to our guys but I don’t think we’ll do that, just to be safe.”
The Raiders have now had eight players placed on the COVID-19 list since the start of the season, including the seven currently on the list. Defensive tackle Maurice Hurst was put on the COVID-19 list two weeks ago before being activated on Monday.
The Raiders have had several issues with the coronavirus protocols already this season. Gruden was fined $100,000 and the team fined $250,000 after Gruden didn’t wear his mask properly in Week 2. The team was also fined $50,000 for allowing an unauthorized employee into the locker room after that game.
Tight end Darren Waller was fined $30,000 and nine teammates were docked $15,000 for attending a charity event held by Waller that violated local coronavirus protocols.
“I’m really proud of our team,” Gruden said. “Our coaches and our trainers have done a great job. There are protocols that are updated during this process. Safety is paramount. Everybody’s safety is paramount."
NOTES: Raiders WR Bryan Edwards (toe, ankle) and CB Keisean Nixon (groin) are out for the game. ... DT Maliek Collins (shoulder and DE Carl Nassib (toe) are questionable.
AP Sports Writer Fred Goodall contributed to this report
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