Titans were told by NFL not to gather prior to their informal workout because of COVID-19 protocols

Erik Bacharach
Nashville Tennessean

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans were told by the NFL on Sept. 29 that in-person activities were prohibited, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to the Tennessean on Thursday.

That refutes speculation the Titans were informed by the league not to gather or conduct group football activities only after a group of Titans players met at a local private school on Sept. 30 for an informal workout.

“This was before the workouts that were reported,” said the  person, who requested anonymity because no official announcement has been made.

Meanwhile, another Titans player tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. The team has returned a total of 23 positive tests — including 13 players and 10 team personnel — since Sept. 24.

Kevin Byard (31) of the Tennessee Titans speaks to his teammates during warmups before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

More:What if Titans can't host Bills as scheduled Sunday? Here are possible scenarios

Montgomery Bell Academy headmaster Brad Gioia confirmed to The Tennessean on Wednesday that a group of Titans worked out together at the school a day after eight members of the  team tested positive and the NFL had the team close its facility. It has not reopened since.

The Titans' coronvavirus outbreak, the first in the NFL, forced the league to postpone the Titans’ Week 4 game against the Steelers until Oct. 25. Now it has the Titans’ scheduled Week 5 game against the Bills on Sunday in serious jeopardy. As of Thursday afternoon, the NFL had not announced a change to the game's scheduled 1 p.m., ET kickoff at Nissan Stadium.

The NFL and NFLPA are continuing an investigation into whether the Titans violated COVID-19 protocols that was ongoing as of Thursday morning, the person. The informal workout is part of that review.

Disciplinary measures for protocol violations that lead to schedule changes  could include the loss or adjustment of draft picks and even the potential for forfeits, according to a league memo from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell that was obtained by USA TODAY Sports.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel has been adamant that the team has followed all COVID-19 protocols. On Sept. 30, Vrabel said: "Nobody's to blame. We're in a pandemic. Unfortunately, things happen. (General manager) Jon (Robinson) and I feel comfortable that since receiving the protocols in August, we’ve followed those by the letter, and that we were conscious of everything that we did."

Asked if he expects the Titans to be disciplined by the league, Vrabel on Tuesday said: "I don't expect anything either way."

Titans players placed on the COVID-19/reserve list since Sept. 24:

  • defensive lineman DaQuan Jones
  • long snapper Beau Brinkley
  • tight end Tommy Hudson (practice squad)
  • outside linebacker Kamalei Correa
  • cornerback Kristian Fulton
  • cornerback Greg Mabin (practice squad)
  • wide receiver Adam Humphries
  • wide receiver Cam Batson
  • defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons
  • fullback Khari Blasingame
  • wide receiver Corey Davis

Reach Erik Bacharach at ebacharach@tennessean.com and on Twitter @ErikBacharach.