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New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton tests positive for COVID-19

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, shown Oct. 3, 2021, will miss Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers due to the positive test. File Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, shown Oct. 3, 2021, will miss Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers due to the positive test. File Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 17 (UPI) -- New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton will miss Sunday's road game against the division rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers after testing positive for COVID-19, the team announced Friday.

Payton, who is fully vaccinated, was "immediately isolated," according to the team. He also made public the NFL's first known positive test for COVID-19 in March 2020.

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Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen will take over as interim head coach against the Buccaneers.

"Sean's our leader and he's the guy that's been running the show around here. So, it'll be a lot different," Allen told reporters. "... The real deal is that he's prepared all of us for how we have to play the game. We know what's expected of us.

"Every single one of us, every coach, player, and staff member, knows what's expected of us. Our job's to go out there on Sunday and perform. That's what we plan on doing."

Under the NFL's coronavirus protocols, Payton will be sidelined for 10 days unless he meets the league's requirements for a fully vaccinated individual to return.

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The Saints said they expect the 57-year-old Payton to return against the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 27.

Payton is the second head coach to test positive for COVID-19 this week, joining Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski. Other coaches that have tested positive and missed games this season include the Arizona Cardinals' Kliff Kingsbury, the Chicago Bears' Matt Nagy and the Dallas Cowboys' Mike McCarthy.

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