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Sports Titans players were 'somewhat shocked' by Steelers game postponement, coach Mike Vrabel says

22:35  01 october  2020
22:35  01 october  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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Titans coach Mike Vrabel told his team at 8:30 a.m. Thursday that their Week 4 game against the Steelers had been postponed until a yet-to-be-announced date, and that, beginning immediately, they were on their bye week.

It was "the safe and smart decision" by the NFL, Vrabel said Thursday, just hours after the league announced that another two members of the Titans — one player and one team personnel — had tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the team's total number of positive cases to 12 in the past week.

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But the news still packed a punch.

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"I think they were somewhat shocked," Vrabel said. "They wanted to play. They were preparing to play. But I think that they understood and realized why the decision was made. I think that they’ll handle this like they do everything else — with professionalism, with understanding and a compassion to not only ourselves, but those people that have been affected."

a group of people that are standing in the grass: Titans head coach Mike Vrabel watches his team during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Minneapolis © Jim Mone, AP Titans head coach Mike Vrabel watches his team during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Minneapolis

As they deal with the league's first teamwide coronavirus outbreak, the Titans have had their team facility closed since Tuesday. Vrabel said he hopes they can reopen on Monday or Tuesday. In the interim, players have been reminded not to gather with each other.

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  Virus outbreak pushes Steelers-Titans to Monday or Tuesday NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Titans have at least one more day to see if the team’s coronavirus outbreak is under control before their game with the Steelers is rescheduled for Monday or Tuesday. Only one new positive test result came back Wednesday, a day after the Titans had three players and five team personnel test positive for COVID-19. More daily test results are upcoming. The league announced the postponement from Sunday afternoon on Wednesday. The Titans hope to be allowed back inside their facility Saturday, though coach Mike Vrabel said that could happen before then or later. The Titans now are preparing to play as early as Monday.

"We’ll probably have different protocols that we’ll have to follow when we go back into the building," Vrabel said. "And we’ll do exactly what the league asks us to do for the safety of the players and their families, and our staff and their families."

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Mike Vrabel talking on a cell phone: Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel watches the game during the third quarter at TIAA Bank Field Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in Jacksonville, Fla. © George Walker IV / Tennessean.com Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel watches the game during the third quarter at TIAA Bank Field Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in Jacksonville, Fla.

Vrabel on Wednesday said some of those who tested positively are dealing with flu-like symptoms. A few are starting to feel better, he said Thursday.

The Titans coach said he "thinks he has an idea" of when Titans-Steelers could be played, but didn't want to speak on behalf of the league.

Options including moving the game to Week 7, when the Titans are scheduled to have their bye. In that scenario, the Steelers-Ravens game scheduled for that week could be pushed back to Week 8, when both of those teams are scheduled to take their bye weeks.

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  Titans back to waiting after NFL postpones game vs. Steelers NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Titans find themselves back in a waiting mode, hoping the NFL allows them back inside their headquarters by Tuesday. Their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers is now postponed until later in the season because of the league's first COVID-19 outbreak. The NFL postponed Sunday's game in Nashville after one additional Titans player and one personnel member tested positive for COVID-19. The announcement Thursday morning came a day after the league said it hoped to play the game either Monday or Tuesday. The NFL said a new game date will be announced “shortly.

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The game also could be pushed back until after the end of the regular season, for which there is some precedent. After the 9/11 attacks, for example, the NFL's entire Week 2 slate was pushed back until after Week 17, and each round of the playoffs that year was subsequently pushed back a week.

For now, though, the Titans' focus turns to the Buffalo Bills, their Week 5 opponent, and taking a moment to rest up.

"What we’re focused on as a team right now is using these next few days like we would a normal bye week, to mentally and physically prepare ourselves for a push for the rest of the season," Vrabel said. "That’s what I explained to the team. I was part of a (New England Patriots) team in 2001 that, after the 9/11 incident, played 14 straight games and won the Super Bowl that year.

"However many we have to play in a row, that’s what we’ll prepare for. But our focus, our singular focus is on next week, which would be Buffalo."

The Titans' COVID-19 troubles began Saturday, when Titans outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen tested positive for the virus. He did not travel with the team to Minnesota for their Week 3 game. On Tuesday, five team personnel and three players — defensive lineman DaQuan Jones, long snapper Beau Brinkley and practice squad tight end Tommy Hudson —   also tested positive. Then, on Wednesday, one more player, outside linebacker Kamalei Correa, also tested positive. The NFL then announced that the Titans-Steelers game originally scheduled for Sunday had been postponed until Monday or Tuesday before Thursday's announcement pushed it back even further.

Steelers-Titans rescheduled for Week 7, while Steelers-Ravens moved to Week 8

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The move ensures the Titans won't have to play on a shortened week of practice, and also allows a handful of injured players — cornerback Adoree' Jackson (knee, wide receiver A.J. Brown (knee) and left tackle Taylor Lewan (shoulder) among them — additional time to recover.

"That was my message to the team: If this is going to be our bye week, there’s a lot of players that can use this time advantageously to possibly return for us to continue to improve and play better," Vrabel said. "I told them try to mentally recover from an emotional few days so that we can proceed with our season and build on a 3-0 start."

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Titans players were 'somewhat shocked' by Steelers game postponement, coach Mike Vrabel says

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