The NFL has avoided major disruptions to its 2020 season by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, or at least since the games actually began earlier this month. But at least a minor issue surfaced for the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday. Ahead of Sunday's Week 3 showdown with the Chicago Bears, the team announced that rookie cornerback A.J. Terrell has been placed on the COVID-19 reserve list. ESPN's Adam Schefter, meanwhile, reports Terrell's Friday morning test was flagged, with the team learning the news Saturday and going into contact-tracing protocols.
The NFL does not require teams to disclose whether COVID-19 reserve players have personally tested positive for the virus or whether they've merely been exposed to someone who has. The first-round draft pick underwent testing Friday morning, per Schefter, then practiced with the team. Terrell did not partake in the Falcons' Saturday walk-through, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, and all other players were re-tested ahead of that practice, with results expected by Sunday morning.
Atlanta has since commenced contact tracing to identify anyone who may have been exposed to infection, and the club has yet to receive any other positive test results. The tracing process should be fairly straightforward, per Pelissero, since all players and other individuals with Tier 1 and 2 access at the team facility are required to wear tracking devices all day. If no one was within six feet of Terrell for 15 consecutive minutes or longer, or if no one tests positive or shows symptoms, then there should be no further impact on other players' status for Atlanta's Week 3 game.
Still, it's possible others could've been within range of Terrell on Friday. At the very least, Atlanta's secondary depth will be even more tested against the Bears on Sunday. The Falcons had already ruled out cornerback Kendall Sheffield (foot) and safety Ricardo Allen (elbow) for Week 3, and Terrell -- now the first player to land on the COVID-19 reserve list during the season -- started each of Atlanta's first two games, reportedly seeing marked improvement in Week 2 thanks to his performance against the Dallas Cowboys.