Gardner Minshew, Matthew Stafford placed on NFL’s coronavirus-related reserve list

Stafford and Minshew appear set to miss some time in training camp, to which most veteran players began reporting over the past week. Among the major adjustments the NFL has made amid the coronavirus pandemic is pushing back full-contact training camp practices until Aug. 17 and eliminating preseason games altogether, ahead of the scheduled start to its regular season on Sept. 10.

That means the two quarterbacks may be back well before their training camps ramp up to a key phase, but their placements on the reserve/covid-19 list could be an indication of the challenges the NFL faces in trying to hew to its usual calendar. While the NBA and NHL are using a “bubble” format, the NFL is following a version of MLB’s model, in which teams remain in their usual locations, play in their own stadiums and travel for road games. With two teams, the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, experiencing outbreaks that have temporarily sidelined them and a few other teams, MLB is suffering rapid problems with its recent return to action and seeing a number of players opting out of its season.

Over 40 NFL players have also opted out, with the league reportedly looking to move the deadline for such declarations to Tuesday or Wednesday. That group includes linebacker Dont’a Hightower and seven other members of the New England Patriots, as well as players such as the Kansas City Chiefs’ Damien Williams, the New York Jets’ C.J. Mosley and the Green Bay Packers’ Devin Funchess.

Hightower, who became a father last month, said in a statement, “Me and my fiancee are just more concerned with the health of our family than football — especially the new addition to our family.”

The Philadelphia Eagles confirmed Sunday evening that head coach Doug Pederson tested positive for the coronavirus. The 52-year-old Super Bowl winner was described by the team as asymptomatic and “doing well.”

Thus far, over 80 players have been placed on the reserve/covid-19 list, with Stafford and Minshew arguably the most high-profile. Two other important offensive players for the Lions, wide receiver Kenny Golladay and tight end T.J. Hockenson, have also received the designation, as have the likes of Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr, Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby and a pair of notable rookies, Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson and Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn.

Nine players have already been activated off the list, including four members of the Jaguars, after the NFL began recording the designation among its transactions on July 26.

In coronavirus-related treatment procedures the NFL detailed for teams in early July, anyone exhibiting symptoms or in close contact with such a person must be tested immediately; a person who has been in contact but who does not exhibit symptoms and tests negative may return to the team and will get tested for the next eight straight days. Those with positive tests but no symptoms must subsequently test negative twice at least five days later. Anyone testing positive and exhibiting symptoms must stay away from the team facility for at least 10 days and for at least 72 hours after symptoms are last detected. According to the NFL’s protocols, no one who tests positive can return to a team without approval from medical personnel.

Stafford struggled with injuries in his first two seasons after the Lions made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft, but he then played in every game from 2011 through 2018 before hip and back issues cut short his 2019 campaign after eight games.

In an Instagram post Sunday celebrating her 31st birthday, Stafford’s wife shared a photo of them with their four young daughters, including one born in late June. “Grateful for another year,” Kelly Stafford, who had surgery in 2019 to remove a brain tumor, wrote in a caption.

Lions wide receiver Geronimo Allison, who signed with the team in March after four seasons with the Packers, cited the recent birth of his daughter in announcing Sunday that he was opting out. He pointed to his “intense desire to protect the health and well-being of my family” while there is “still so much uncertainty around this very scary virus.”

A sixth-round pick last year, Minshew played well after an injury to then-Jacksonville starting quarterback Nick Foles thrust him into the lineup. The Jaguars signaled their confidence in Minshew by trading Foles to the Chicago Bears in March, but Minshew was unable to practice with teammates in team-organized sessions before training camp because the pandemic forced the NFL into an all-virtual offseason.

Two Jaguars have opted out, including defensive lineman Lerentee McCray, who said in a statement Saturday that he was doing so with the “health and safety of my family in mind.”

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