As COVID-19 surges, some NFL teams are taking extra precautions to keep their quarterbacks from contracting the virus.
Just as in 2020, teams such as the Indianapolis Colts are coping with the possibility of not having their top quarterback available for a key game. Colts starter Carson Wentz, who is unvaccinated, was placed on the team’s COVID-19 reserve list on Wednesday, leaving his availability for Sunday’s game with the Las Vegas Raiders (1 p.m. ET, Fox) in doubt.
Whether it’s keeping one quarterback isolated, spacing out the quarterback room, holding virtual meetings or adhering to other safety guidelines outlined by the league and government officials, here is how some NFL teams that have either locked up a playoff bid or are contending for one are trying to ensure they have a healthy quarterback. Teams are listed by conference seeding.
Green Bay Packers
All three of the Packers’ quarterbacks — Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love and the practice squad’s Kurt Benkert — have had COVID-19 this season, so they don’t need to test anymore. The soonest Rodgers would be subjected to another test would be the week of the Super Bowl. Love is clear from testing through the Super Bowl.
While the Packers wouldn’t need to do anything special for their quarterbacks, coach Matt LaFleur has said he will take the team virtual for everything but practice whenever he feels there’s a reason to do so. — ESPN Packers reporter Rob Demovsky
Because the Cowboys are in a virtual-meeting mode anyway, they do not need to separate quarterbacks. In fact, they even pulled No. 3 quarterback Will Grier from virtual meetings because he had sniffles, according to coach Mike McCarthy. Ultimately, the Cowboys hope to get back to in-person — yet, socially distanced — meetings before the playoffs and have talked about different scenarios.
“We are very cognizant of the position groups and being smart with everybody,” McCarthy said. “But it’s really the personal focus is what’s most important. As far as our time together, outside of being on the practice field and in the locker room, the way it’s set up, I think we are doing a really good job here.” — ESPN Cowboys reporter Todd Archer
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bucs interim head coach Harold Goodwin called it “business as usual in the quarterback room” and praised that position group for its adherence to COVID-19 protocols. The Buccaneers have had an emergency option there for the past two seasons in tight end Cameron Brate, should Tom Brady, Blaine Gabbert, Kyle Trask and Ryan Griffin all not be available.
The Bucs keep four quarterbacks with three on the active roster, so that helps. — ESPN Bucs reporter Jenna Laine
“We feel like we have a good plan for it,” coach Kliff Kingsbury said. — ESPN Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss
San Francisco 49ers
Coach Kyle Shanahan said the team switched all meetings to virtual on Wednesday, two days after punter Mitch Wishnowsky became the team’s first player to go on the COVID list since August.
“We’ve been pretty fortunate with it so far having just one guy down,” Shanahan said. “But just watching the world and watching everybody, knowing how it’s a matter of time is what it looks like, so we’re just trying to be careful and keep everyone separate right now until we go outside.”