Eagles coach Doug Pederson still has confidence the NFL season will continue despite the growing number of players testing positive for the coronavirus.
Pederson spoke with reporters Wednesday morning just as news surfaced that two more Tennessee Titans players had tested positive for the virus, meaning the team won’t be permitted to return to its practice facility yet. The Titans had eight players test positive last week, leading to the postponement of their Week 4 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore also tested positive Wednesday, joining teammate Cam Newton on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. The Patriots game against the Chiefs was postponed a day because of Newton’s diagnosis.
“I can’t comment too much on other teams,” Pederson said. “I don’t know all the situations, but I do know that there’s positive tests. Basically, the message from the league office is just to uphold the protocols in place that we’ve been asked to do. I feel comfortable with what we’ve done, what our players have done. We just took this long road trip, and everything was good.”
Pederson, who caught the coronavirus at the start of training camp, said he will continue to enforce the safety measures to his players and staff. The Eagles haven’t placed a player on the Reserve/COVID-19 list since before the start of the season, although a handful of players have missed time with undisclosed illnesses unrelated to the virus.
“I have to do my due diligence and keep reminding my team, coaches, players, staff of the protocols that are in place,” Pederson said. “We can’t let our guard down. It’s unfortunate, but I’m optimistic that the league and the season will continue.”
Wide receivers return to practice
Pederson also said DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery are expected to return to practice Wednesday. It’s unclear whether either veteran receiver will be a full participant, and Pederson wouldn’t commit to either guy being available for Sunday’s game against the Steelers at Heinz Field.
“Both guys are getting closer,” Pederson said. “In DeSean’s case, it’s just a matter of just continuing to manage him, make sure that he’s more than — we say 100% as he enters himself back into practice and gets himself acclimated again. Honestly, it’s going to be something that we’re going to have to monitor with him. He’s going to have to monitor it.”