Six Pittsburgh Steelers players were absent from practice Saturday night at Heinz Field because of coronavirus testing irregularities, but general manager Kevin Colbert said Sunday all have been cleared to attend team activities.
“None of those players were required to be placed on Reserve/Covid-19 and will be returning to meetings today and practice on Monday,” Colbert said in a statement.
The Steelers conducted a night practice at Heinz Field. Among the players who did not practice were running back James Conner, center Maurkice Pouncey, defensive end Stephon Tuitt, guard David DeCastro, safety Terrell Edmunds and wide receiver Diontae Johnson. All but Pouncey were on the field during practice, and DeCastro, Edmunds and Johnson previously had missed practice time because of injury.
Coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged Saturday night some of his players did not practice because they were “caught up in covid procedures” but he did not provide specifics.
“We are going to exercise all caution like we normally do and make sure that we adhere to it to the fullest,” Tomlin said.
The NFL released a statement Sunday after the league’s daily coronavirus testing returned several positive results from teams using the same laboratory in New Jersey.
“We are working with our testing partner, BioReference, to investigate these results, while the clubs work to confirm or rule out the positive tests,” the NFL said. “Clubs are taking immediate precautionary measures as outlined in the NFL-NFLPA’s health and safety protocols to include contact tracing, isolation of individuals and temporarily adjusting the schedule, where appropriate. The other laboratories used for NFL testing have not had similar results.”
The NFL uses BioReference for all coronavirus testing, but labs across the country handle the tests so teams can get results within 24 hours.
The New York Jets revealed they had 10 false positives from testing, and the Chicago Bears reported nine such cases. The Jets canceled a walkthrough Saturday but practiced Sunday after the previous positive tests results were negative upon retesting. The Bears pushed back their scheduled practice time a few hours, and the Cleveland Browns canceled a planned workout Sunday.
The Browns said in a statement results indicated multiple “presumptive positive cases” that included coaches, players and support personnel.
Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane was told his team was one of “10 or 11” dealing with potential false positives because of testing that had gone “haywire.”
The Steelers placed four players on the reserve/covid-19 list during the initial testing phase at the beginning of training camp. No player spent more than a week on the list, and the Steelers haven’t had a player test positive in the ensuing two weeks of conditioning and practices. Padded workouts began July 28.
“The league is doing a great job,” veteran defensive end Tyson Alualu said. “I know they are learning from this. It’s probably better that they catch this early on and kind of take care of it, which I know they will. It’s tough. You never want to be a false positive and miss some of the important reps, whether it’s at practice or especially on game day.”
Sports | Steelers/NFL