The Falcons have avoided COVID issues throughout the offseason and the 2021 season. The entire NFL was in a good spot until the last few days found a COVID wave hitting the league. The worst hit, so far, has been the Cleveland Browns. The Browns have a slew of starters, as well as its head coach, showing up positive. Short of quick turnarounds, Cleveland may struggle to put together enough players to field a team.
For the Falcons, special team player Emmanuel Ellerbee came up with a positive test the day after playing against the Carolina Panthers. Two practice squad players had positive tests as well. We do not know if the Falcons expect or anticipate further players to end up on the list, but we found out on Wednesday that the Falcons are in enhanced COVID protocols.
Atlanta is not doing virtual meetings, said head coach Arthur Smith, emphasizing that this year's protocol structure is different from a year ago.— Josh Kendall (@JoshTheAthletic) December 15, 2021
"We feel like we’re in a good spot," Smith said. https://t.co/MTOhiPkSVd
Interesting note from head coach Arthur Smith about updated COVID protocols. The NFL prioritized vaccines across the league, so there were likely changes with the league’s protocols with the majority of players and personnel expected to be vaccinated.
While three Falcons players were positive on Monday’s tests, we did not see further positives on Tuesday or, so far, Wednesday. With players are personnel vaccinated, tested frequently, and having access to healthcare, there is not much concern for long-term health issues. The concern is really about being able to field a competitive team.
For the Falcons, that means avoiding any big names ending up on the COVID-19/Reserve List, especially ahead of Sunday’s 49ers game. The Atlanta Falcons are suddenly in a possible playoff push, with things looking really good if Atlanta can beat an uneven 49ers team. Losing players to the reserve list would hamper that playoff push. Even more problematic would be late-week positive tests where players do not even have an opportunity to test and return.
The Falcons need to ensure players do not start popping up with positive tests.