New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton said Wednesday that a group of his offensive coaches, along with the team's nutritionist and a player, have tested positive for COVID-19.
Payton didn't identify by name any of those who had tested positive. But he later indicated that those missing from in-person preparations included an offensive line coach, a receivers coach, a running backs coach and two tight ends coaches. Payton said all are vaccinated.
Two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Tuesday that six offensive assistants had tested positive. That person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team and NFL at that point had not made a public statement about the matter.
Later Tuesday, Michael Thomas — who already was ineligible to play the first six games while on the club’s physically unable to perform list — was placed on New Orleans’ COVID-19 reserve list.
The names of most others who tested positive were not expected to be released in the short term because of federal medical privacy laws.
It is unclear how long those who tested positive will remain isolated from the team before they may return to the field or in-person meetings.
“Protocol obviously is enhanced with the team and the staff, and that’s part of it, and then those that have tested positive, like everyone else, test daily now,” Payton said. “They’re going to need two negative tests essentially before they can be back in the building and working. And so we don’t know the timing or the timeframe on that.”
The NFL’s enhanced mitigation protocols mean mandatory masking inside facilities, daily testing, no in-person meetings and grab-and-go meals.
The positive tests occurred after New Orleans’ 38-3 victory over Green Bay on Sunday in Jacksonville, Florida, where the game was moved from the Superdome following damage caused to southeast Louisiana by Hurricane Ida.
The Saints have spent the past two weeks practicing in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and are scheduled to continue practicing at TCU this week before traveling to Carolina for their Week 2 game on Sunday. That game remains on track to go ahead as scheduled.
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Brett Martel, The Associated Press