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NFL increases COVID-19 screening as two more Titans test positive

NFL increases COVID-19 screening as two more Titans test positive
Seven Tennessee Titans players have tested positive for COVID-19 since Sunday, which has led the NFL to increase testing for the virus throughout the league. File Photo by Kyle Rivas/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 2 (UPI) -- The NFL will increase COVID-19 testing after two additional Tennessee Titans players tested positive for the virus Friday in Nashville, the league said.

Sources told NFL Network and ESPN about the latest test results. Seven Titans players and six staff members test positive since their game Sunday in Minneapolis.

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NFL and players union representatives have traveled to Nashville to assist the Titans amid the outbreak. The league said Thursday that the Titans' game planned for Sunday will be postponed to later this season.

The league on Friday told all 32 teams that it reached an agreement with the players union to extend daily COVID-19 testing until further notice. The extension now covers bye weeks, which means players, coaches and staff must stay in their home cities even if they don't have a game that week.

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Players can be fined or suspended if they don't get tested.

The Titans were scheduled to host the Pittsburgh Steelers at 1 p.m. EDT Sunday at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. Both teams now have Week 4 byes. The Titans have suspended in-person activities and closed team facilities until further notice.

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"I think they [Titans players] were somewhat shocked -- they wanted to play, and they were preparing to play," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said of the postponement. "But I think that they understood and realized why the decision was made.

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"They'll handle this like they handle everything else. They'll handle it with professionalism, with understanding and a compassion towards not only ourselves and those people that have been affected, but also Pittsburgh. The Steelers were preparing for a game and now they'll have their scheduled changed as well."

Vrabel said Thursday he hopes the team can return for in-person activities Monday or Tuesday.

NFL Referees Association executive director Scott Green also sent an email to NFL vice president Troy Vincent this week to request that the league implement unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for coaches and players who confront officials at close proximity without wearing a mask during games.

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Several coaches and teams have been fined for not wearing masks on the sidelines through the first three weeks of the 2020 NFL season -- a violation of the league's safety protocols.

The Minnesota Vikings -- the Titans' Week 3 opponent -- have not had any players or staff members test positive since Sunday. The Vikings still plan to play their game as scheduled against the Houston Texans on Sunday in Houston.

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The Vikings suspended in-person activities on Tuesday before they reopened team facilities on Thursday for practice.

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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (R) greets Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson after defeating the Ravens 34-20 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Monday. Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo

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