According to a statement from the NFL, one additional Titans players and one personnel member tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. That comes after four players (starting nose tackle DaQuan Jones, linebacker Kamalei Correa, long-snapper Beau Brinkley and practice squad tight end Tommy Hudson) and five team personnel members tested positive earlier this week.
“The decision to postpone the game was made to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel,” the NFL said in its statement. “The Titans facility will remain closed and the team will continue to have no in-person activities until further notice.”
The announcement comes a day after the NFL said the game, which had originally been scheduled for Sunday, had been postponed to Monday or Tuesday.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said Thursday that his players “were somewhat shocked” at the news they wouldn’t be playing this week.
“They wanted to play; they were preparing to play. But I think that they understood and realized why the decision was made,” he said. “I think that they’ll handle this like they do 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 — they were preparing for a game and now will have their schedule changed as well.”
Vrabel said Wednesday that some of the players who tested positive were experiencing flu-like symptoms.
The Minnesota Vikings, who played the Titans on Sunday, had no positive results in their latest round of coronavirus testing Wednesday, and their facility was scheduled to be reopened Thursday.
Now the NFL has to figure out how to reschedule a game between two of its seven undefeated teams after the league’s first COVID-19 outbreak.
The simplest scenario for rescheduling is Week 7 on Oct. 25. That’s the Titans’ bye week. Pittsburgh is scheduled to play at Baltimore that week, but both the Steelers and Ravens have byes in Week 8, which would allow the NFL to make a change affecting only one other team.
The challenge is turning this week into a bye for both Tennessee and Pittsburgh and comes after both teams started preparing to play as early as Monday. The Titans, who played in the AFC Championship Game in January, and the Steelers, revived with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back, might be playing without a break through the rest of the regular season.
Having a Week 4 bye is not necessarily a disadvantage, nor is it anything new. Since 2012, the NFL has planned a Week 4 bye in every season except 2017 and 2020. Last season, the San Francisco 49ers reached the Super Bowl after having a Week 4 bye.
ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press contributed to this report.