Jul 30, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers nose tackle Ndamukong Suh (93) at AdventHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs’ Ndamukong Suh removed from COVID-19 list

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers activated defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday, clearing him to play in Thursday’s NFL season opener.

Over the past few days, kicker Ryan Succop as well as offensive linemen Nick Leverett and Earl Watson also were removed from the COVID list.

Suh, 34, has started 147 consecutive regular-season games since the end of the 2011 season. He has never missed a game because of an illness or injury.

Last season, Suh made 44 tackles and registered six sacks to go along with 19 quarterback hits.

The Super Bowl champion Buccaneers will meet the Dallas Cowboys in Tampa on Thursday. With Suh back, the Buccaneers will have every starter from their championship team on the active roster.

To open a spot for Suh on the 53-man roster, the Buccaneers waived rookie kicker Jose Borregales. An undrafted free agent from the University of Miami, he hit one of two field goal attempts and one of two extra point tries in the preseason.

–Field Level Media

Aug 21, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) looks on before a game against the Tennessee Titans at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady says he had COVID-19 in February

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady said he contracted COVID-19 shortly after his team’s Super Bowl celebration in February.

Brady told the Tampa Bay Times on Saturday he tested positive COVID-19 shortly after the Super Bowl 55 championship boat parade. Brady’s parents also dealt with COVID last year.

Although Brady’s team is 100 percent vaccinated, the 44-year-old quarterback believes this season could be even more challenging than last season.

“I actually think it’s going to be play more of a factor this year than last year,” Brady told the Times. “Just because of the way what we’re doing now, what the stadium is going to look like and what the travel is going to look like and the people in the building and the fans.”

–Field Level Media

Ole Miss Head Coach Lane Kiffin waits to be introduced in the main media room during SEC Media Days at the Hyatt Regency in Hoover, Ala., Tuesday, July 20, 2021. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

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Lane Kiffin positive for COVID, to miss Ole Miss opener

Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin will sit out his team’s opener against Louisville on Monday after testing positive for COVID-19.

Kiffin announced Saturday that he had a breakthrough case and had mild symptoms. The team has not given word as to who will coach in his absence.

“I am disappointed to confirm that I have developed a breakthrough case of Covid and will not accompany our team to Atlanta,” Kiffin wrote.

“I am grateful to be vaccinated and experiencing only mild symptoms. So much so, I debated over being tested, but I’m relieved that I did. I’m proud of our program’s commitment to vaccination, and as a result, there are currently no other cases to report or team members expected to miss the game.”

Kiffin, 46, declared his team 100 percent vaccinated against COVID-19 in early August.

The Rebels athletic department has made a big push for vaccination within a state that has struggled with vaccination rates, with just 39.71 percent of its population fully vaccinated, per the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins.

At SEC media days in July, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey warned there would be no built-in buffers this year to account for postponements due to COVID-19 cases. Instead, a team with too many ineligible players would have to forfeit games.

The SEC made that policy official earlier this week.

–Field Level Media

Feb 7, 2020; Tampa, FL, USA;  General view of the NFL Shield logo on the field before Super Bowl LV between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

NFL, NFLPA agree to weekly COVID testing for vaccinated players

The NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed Monday that vaccinated players and team staff members will now undergo COVID testing once every seven days.

Previously, the NFL’s vaccinated personnel had been required to take a COVID test once every 14 days. The testing now will take place each week on the three days following a game.

All unvaccinated players will continue to be tested daily. Vaccinated players with vulnerable cohabitants can choose to be tested daily, as well.

As of last week, approximately 93 percent of NFL players and 99 percent of staff members were fully vaccinated. Those numbers are expected to change as NFL teams continue to trim their rosters with the start of the regular season approaching.

–Field Level Media

Jul 28, 2021; Orchard Park, NY, United States; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley (11) on the field during practice at the Buffalo Bills Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Cole Beasley, Gabriel Davis out after COVID exposure

Buffalo Bills wide receivers Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis are on COVID-19 hiatus after being exposed to a member of the training staff who tested positive, the New York Daily News reported Tuesday.

Beasley and Davis have tested negative, per the reports.

However, both players are in the re-entry process for the next five days because they are unvaccinated. Vaccinated players who are exposed can continue practicing so long as they return negative tests.

Beasley has been vocal in his opposition to getting the vaccine, most recently releasing an anti-vaccine rap song. In a song titled “Heavy 1s,” Beasley belts out lyrics that include “ain’t no vaccination for me, only evacuation save ’em homie.”

Beasley, 32, is coming off a season in which he recorded career highs of 82 receptions and 967 yards. He also had four touchdown catches.

Davis, 22, had 35 catches for 599 yards with seven touchdowns in his rookie season in Buffalo. The Bills made him a fourth-round selection in the 2020 draft.

–Field Level Media

Oregon Ducks linebacker Noah Sewell (1) celebrates a tackle in the first quarter of the Ducks Pac12 game against Stanford University on Nov. 7, 2020, in Eugene, Oregon.

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Pac-12 to issue forfeit for COVID cancellation

Pac-12 football games canceled due to COVID-19 will result in a forfeit for the team that triggers the schedule change under new rules released by the conference on Thursday.

“If an institution is unable to play a contest through its own fault, it shall forfeit such contest to its opponent,” the Pac-12 said in a release. “Any forfeited contest shall be registered as a conference loss for the team making the forfeit and a conference win for its opponent. The Pac-12 rule provides the commissioner with the discretion to determine whether an institution is at fault or primarily at fault for an inability to play a contest based on the facts of the situation.”

Following an abbreviated 2020 season due to COVID-19, the Pac-12 decided teams unable to field the minimum-required healthy roster for a game will take a loss in the standings.

In 2020, those games were merely canceled if they couldn’t be rescheduled amid outbreaks.

Multiple teams played only four games in 2020.

–Field Level Media

Bills Dion Dawkins celebrates with fans after Buffalo beat the Ravens 17-3.

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Bills activate LT Dion Dawkins from COVID-19 list

The Buffalo Bills activated left tackle Dion Dawkins from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday.

Dawkins, 27, was placed on the list at the start of training camp late last month.

He is not likely to play in Friday night’s preseason opener against the host Detroit Lions.

A second-round pick in 2017, Dawkins has played in all 64 regular-season games (59 starts) and five playoff games in the past four seasons.

In August 2020 he signed a four-year, $60 million contract extension through the 2024 season.

–Field Level Media

Jul 30, 2021; Jacksonville, FL, USA;  Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback C.J. Beathard (3) participates in training camp at Dream Finders Homes practice field Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Jags place QB C.J. Beathard, S Jarrod Wilson on COVID list

The Jacksonville Jaguars placed quarterback C.J. Beathard and safety Jarrod Wilson on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday.

Beathard, 27, signed a two-year, $5 million deal with the Jaguars in March after four years with the San Francisco 49ers. He is competing with Gardner Minshew to be the backup to No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence.

Beathard appeared in 19 games (12 starts) with the 49ers from 2017-20, compiling a 2-10 record and completing 58.6 percent of his passes for 3,469 yards, 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Wilson, 27, is entering his sixth season with the Jaguars after going undrafted in 2016. He had 69 tackles and one interception in 12 games (all starts) in 2020, raising his career totals to 188 tackles and three INTs in 75 games (30 starts).

–Field Level Media

Jul 29, 2021; Richmond, VA, USA; Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young (99) wears a face mask as he retrieves his jersey during training camp at Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Cennter. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

NFLPA president JC Tretter rips NFL’s ‘scarlet marking’ for unvaccinated

Unvaccinated players must mask up as part of the NFL protocol on COVID-related player safety. It’s the next step of demarcation ruffling the feathers of Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter, the NFL Players Association president.

Tretter said Thursday he is entirely against forcing unvaccinated players to wear wristbands that denote vaccination status.

“It’s a nonsensical idea,” Tretter said. “They say they need a differentiator between vaccinated and unvaccinated players. We already have a differentiator. The unvaccinated players need to wear masks. No other sports league uses any sort of scarlet marking or helmet decal or wristband, because they know it’s not necessary and the teams know who’s vaccinated, who’s not vaccinated.”

The Browns are one of the NFL teams who opted not to have their unvaccinated players wear wristbands. The stipulation has not been agreed to by the NFLPA and NFL, which bargained over several other elements within the safety protocol.

Head coach Kevin Stefanski said he will not “divide the team over this issue” and Tretter plans to continue fighting to give players on other teams the option of removing the bands.

“So what it really comes down to is the NFL wanted to put a policy in place to try to shame unvaccinated players publicly about their status and make that known to everyone on the field,” Tretter said. “It shouldn’t be the case because it’s unnecessary. We all know who’s vaccinated and who’s not, and it doesn’t need to be a scarlet marking on people’s helmets or wrists.”

The NFL said in a COVID-19 update on Thursday that 87.9 percent of players in training camps are vaccinated. Per the league, 19 teams have a vaccination rate over 90 percent.

The Indianapolis Colts and Washington Football Team remain among the least-vaccinated teams.

–Field Level Media

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill answers questions from the media after a training camp practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park Wednesday, July 28, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn.

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Titans QB Ryan Tannehill: NFL ‘forced my hand’ with vaccine protocol

Ryan Tannehill is one of the 80 players on the Titans’ 90-man roster to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, but the Tennessee quarterback made it clear he didn’t exactly go willingly.

“I wouldn’t have gotten the vaccine without the protocols they’re forcing on us,” Tannehill said Wednesday.

Though there is no mandate from the NFL to players or coaches to be vaccinated, protocol in place creates significant challenges to choosing not to be fully vaccinated this season.

“I’m in the process right now of being vaccinated,” Tannehill said Wednesday following general manager Jon Robinson’s media session outlining the team’s vaccination progress. “The NFL has kind of made it clear what they want it to happen. If you don’t fall in line, they’re going to try to make your life miserable with the protocols.”

Players who opt not to receive the vaccine are not allowed to practice in the greater group of players on a daily basis, must wear masks over their nose and mouth and face strict testing and quarantine measures.

The sum of those restrictions would make it difficult for a starting quarterback in the NFL to prepare and play at a high level.

“It’s a personal decision for everyone. Everyone has to make the best decision for their families, that’s kind of our mindset in this building,” Tannehill said. “They ultimately have forced a lot of hands by the protocols. Just … everyone has their own opinions on it. It is what it is. I love this game. I love this team. I want to be able to compete and do the things I think are important to build chemistry and win football games. So, ultimately that forced my hand.”

Tannehill, who turned 33 on Tuesday, is entering his third season with the Ttians. He has thrown for 55 touchdowns against 13 interceptions in 28 games (26 starts) with Tennessee.

–Field Level Media