The Falcons continue pioneering new firsts in the NFL. This time it is first-round rookie AJ Terrell testing positive for the highly-contagious coronavirus. This is a problem for a secondary already missing Kendall Sheffield and Ricardo Allen, but an even bigger problem for the rest of the team.
Per multiple NFL reporters, Terrell was not ruled out due to contact with someone with the coronavirus, but he tested positive for the virus. The Falcons received the positive finding on Saturday from a test administered Friday. No other Falcons tested positive during the same test, however, we do not know if Terrell may have exposed others during practice.
We made it just over two weeks into the regular season before a player with the coronavirus practiced with other players, per 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
And per Tom Pelissero, we won’t know until just a few hours before kickoff.
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
The Falcons may have to hold out any player who had the close contact with Terrell, and have to worry about other players popping up with the virus with little to no warning. How the team can deal with the possibility of replacing multiple players is unclear.
This is both a short-term problem for the Falcons, a long-term problem for the league, and potentially a long-term problem for players as we learn a percentage of even young and healthy people suffer from different heart and breathing issues for far longer than others.
We hope the best for Terrell and hope other players have not been exposed to the coronavirus. However, we will not know for sure until Sunday morning.
Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff better have planned for contingencies better than the team planned for recovering onside kicks.