Covid-19 Rapidly Spreading Through The Saints’ Locker Room Ahead Of Monday Night Football

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Washington Football Team
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Update: Saints have now also added LB Demario Davis, ST ace J.T. Gray and RT Ryan Ramczyk to Reserve/COVID-19 list.

COVID-19’s Omicron variant is determined to leave its fingerprints all over the world of sports, especially on NFL teams. Players from almost every NFL team, including the New Orleans Saints, are being placed on the COVID-19 list daily. For the second time this year, after traveling to Florida, the New Orleans Saints experienced an outbreak of COVID-19 cases throughout their building.

Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the following names were placed on Reserve/COVID-19: QB Taysom Hill, QB Trevor Siemian, S Malcolm Jenkins, OL Jordan Mills, DT Christian Ringo, DE Jalyn Holmes, S Jeff Heath, LB Kaden Elliss, OL James Carpenter. With these nine additions, the NFL has had a total of 46 players (active roster & practice squad) placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list as of today. TEs Adam Trautman & Juwan Johnson were placed on the COVID list earlier this week, making that 11 total Saints players on the list.

With Hill & Siemian both out, at least for the moment, the Saints are preparing to start rookie QB Ian Book, a fourth-round pick from Notre Dame, on Monday. This would make four different quarterbacks the Saints have had to start this season, which is the first time they’ve done so since 1998. The last rookie quarterback that the Saints have started was Danny Wuerffel back in 1997.

Acting as Head Coach of the Saints while Sean Payton recovers from Covid-19, Dennis Allen told everyone to stay home while the team deals with the COVID situation. The team was scheduled to have walkthroughs today for practice in person, however, instead, it was held virtually. It was a great move by Dennis Allen to move practice virtually, and CB Marshon Lattimore did not hold back his thoughts when addressing Saints media today. “It’s been crazy. Everything has been on the fly this week. We are just trying to work around it, so we can finish off the season right. We are not trying to let it be too much of a distraction, but it is serious because it deals with players’ & coaches’ health.”

With Malcolm Jenkins’s status now being in question, so is his iron-man record of consecutive starts since entering the league. We’ve already seen the end of DE Cameron Jordan’s iron-man record for the exact same reason. It seemed to have served him well the following week, as he put up his best performance of the season with two sacks & a forced fumble, but this still doesn’t sit right with me. Players like Jordan & Jenkins do everything right, they take care of their bodies, and follow all proper protocols. They shouldn’t have their records stripped from them because of this.

LT Terron Armstead & RT Ryan Ramczyk were both listed as DNP today, which makes Ian Book’s situation all the more worrisome. Assuming either OT is unable to go Monday, they’d also be without OL Jordan Mills & OL James Carpenter, leaving only OT James Hurst & OL Caleb Benenoch available for the moment. Saints tried out adding two defensive tackles Braxton Hoyett and Olive Sagapolu with OT Garrett McGhin and OT Kyle Murphy, earlier this week in the offensive line rotation, per Nick Underhill from New Orleans Football.

Assuming no other Saints players test positive for the virus ahead of Monday night, the team should still be in good enough shape to try and come away with a win against the Miami Dolphins. Quarterback coach Ronald Curry spoke highly of the rookie QB back during training camp. “He’s a sharp kid, a fast learner, doesn’t make the same mistake twice, and is diligent in his work. A film junkie. I love working with him. He has a great balance to him. He’s an accurate thrower and he’s hungry to get better. He’s the perfect, young developmental quarterback.”

The NFL has made it clear that they’re not postponing any further games, but personally, if I had any say on the matter, I would look into bringing the option back on the table, or at least updating protocols, for multiple reasons. For example, the Houston Texans have twenty-three total players test positive overall, and have added OL Tytus Howard & C Justin Britt on Thursday. The Omicron variant may not be as deadly of a strand as compared to its predecessors, but the rate at which it is being spread is alarming for the health and safety of the players and coaches across the league.