The Detroit Lions are traveling in uncharted territory this week, as much of their coaching staff is currently quarantining due to close contact with a player or coach who tested positive for COVID-19.
Lions interim head coach Darrell Bevell confirmed on Wednesday that himself, defensive coordinator Cory Undlin and several other coaches would not be at practice that day. He did say, however, that they are planning on watching the practices live in a virtual setting.
“Myself and the other coaches who won’t be at practice will be in there, watching it on Zoom live, so we’ll be able to make corrections when we need to after practice,” Bevell said.
The Lions interim coach said that he expect practice to run smoothly, as they have hammered out a schedule for drills shortly after Bevell took over the position from fired head coach Matt Patricia.
As for his availability for Saturday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it appears that information is still in flux. Bevell didn’t provide clarity on when the close contact took place for the coaches, which would then set off a five-day quarantine for which they are not allowed to show up in the building.
NFL Network is reporting that the positive test was the result of traveling on Sunday, which could mean that if the close contact also occurred on that day, they could be cleared by Saturday. However, if the close contact came on Monday, they would not be cleared by gameday.
Though players are officially off on Mondays as part of the new COVID protocol, coaches are given the option to show up on Monday if they would like. They also have the option to stay home and work. Bevell was not clear on which coaches were in the building this Monday, but Bevell, himself, was there for his Monday press conference.
If Bevell cannot coach on Saturday, he said all of the contingency plans are still being worked out by the team. He would not say who would be expected to call plays or act as head coach. Regardless of how things shake out, Bevell expects everything to be sorted out by Thursday.
“Tomorrow is a Friday in our world, so we have to be able to have all that information by tomorrow, so we can give it to you guys as well,” Bevell said.
Of course, it’s always important to remember the personal toll this stuff takes on players and coaches. Bevell mentioned that he was forced to quarantine from his wife on Tuesday, forcing him to miss his 28th year anniversary. Additionally, he noted that all of the coaches that must currently quarantine will likely have to do so away from their families through Christmas.
“Also, just super concerned for the people that have had positive tests,” Bevell said. “I think we’ve got to remember—I know that all this football is going on and we see a positive test and (we’re) just like, ‘Oh, how does that affect the football?’ But they have families to go home to, they have wives, kids, parents, people that this can truly affect. So, that’s kind of where my mind goes to and my concern for those guys.”