Several NFL teams are dealing with big COVID-19 issues as cases continue to rise in the league and in the United States. On Monday, it was reported that the LA Chargers were putting several players on the COVID-19 list, including Joey Bosa, who has already been ruled out of Sunday's game against the Houston Texans.
Bosa is unvaccinated so it is safe to say that he tested positive for the virus and has to spend a minimum of 10 days away from the team. Hopefully, all goes well for Bosa and he stays healthy and can play in Week 16 against the Denver Broncos.
Austin Ekeler was also initially reported to be put on the COVID-19 list with a positive test but he ultimately was not on the list. While Ekeler did test positive, he was not one of seven players that were put on the list. Why? Ekeler is vaccinated and the NFL has implemented much looser guidelines around COVID-19. It has now become even easier for a vaccinated player to return to action with the changes in protocol.
These changes allow vaccinated players to return if (h/t Brian DeArdo, CBS Sports):
- They have two PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests that are either negative or have a CT (cycle threshold) of 35 or greater.
- One PCR test that is either negative or has a CT value of 35 or greater, and negative Mesa test taken without 24 hours of the PCR test.
- Two negative Mesa tests.
That is why Ekeler and Linsley are considered day-to-day and have a pretty decent chance of playing against the Houston Texans on Sunday, especially if the positive test occurred earlier in the weekend as opposed to Monday.
Overall, the LA Chargers may have dodged a bullet with the COVID-19 list.
While Keenan Allen missed Week 14 against the New York Giants and Rashawn Slater missed Week 15 against the Kansas City Chiefs, the losses were minimal for the Chargers compared to other teams in the league. In fact, the team may have gotten lucky that they played on the Thursday before all of the covid cases started sweeping across the league.
What if the positive tests to all these players occurred on Saturday? The Chargers would have played the Chiefs without Ekeler, Bosa and Linsley. The result would not have changed as the Chargers lost anyway but the game probably would not have even been close.
Even more impactful is the fact that vaccinated players no longer have to test for COVID-19 if they remain asymptomatic. A lot of the positive cases in the NFL seem to be asymptomatic cases with vaccinated players who would not even know otherwise that they have the virus in their bodies. That obviously makes it much less likely that the Chargers will deal with serious issues down the stretch, especially since we know that Justin Herbert is vaccinated.
At this point in the season the LA Chargers cannot afford to drop any games because of COVID-19 issues and because of the timing of their Week 15 game, as well as the new NFL protocols, the risk of that happening is now much slimmer.