The Falcons said they were working remotely Thursday. There was no immediate change to the status of their game scheduled for Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
The team was given the option to reopen its facility Thursday afternoon, according to a person familiar with the situation, but decided to continue remote operations all day. The Falcons’ facility could reopen Friday, barring further positive test results.
“Out of an abundance of caution following one new positive test, we have made the decision to stop all in-person work at IBM Performance Field Thursday and will conduct all operations virtually,” the Falcons said in a written statement. “This decision was made in consultation with the NFL and medical officials. The health and safety of our team is our highest priority.”
The Falcons were in their facility and practiced Wednesday after placing rookie defensive lineman Marlon Davidson on their covid-19 reserve list Tuesday, reportedly after he tested positive.
The Carolina Panthers, who faced the Falcons this past Sunday in Atlanta, announced Wednesday that they were operating under enhanced coronavirus protocols established by the league for teams with coronavirus cases or that have been exposed to cases.
The NFL has rescheduled a handful of games over the past two weekends while dealing with a coronavirus outbreak on the Tennessee Titans and positive tests involving other teams. The Titans had 21 members of their organization, including 12 players, test positive during an 11-day shutdown of their facility that ended this past Saturday. In all, the Titans have had 24 members of the organization, including 13 players, test positive since Sept. 24.
The Titans beat the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday night in Nashville in a rescheduled game. It was the Titans’ first game since Sept. 27, and it was only the second NFL game in 74 years to be played on a Tuesday.
The New England Patriots are to play the Denver Broncos this Sunday in Foxborough, Mass., after that game was postponed from this past Sunday. The Patriots activated quarterback Cam Newton from their covid-19 reserve list Wednesday, clearing him to practice Thursday and potentially play Sunday. Newton tested positive for the coronavirus, a person familiar with the result confirmed Oct. 3.
The Patriots played a rescheduled game at Kansas City two days later, on a Monday night, without Newton. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore played in that game but confirmed two days later that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
NFL officials said Tuesday they are considering adding an 18th week to the regular season to accommodate further rescheduled games but will do so only if they cannot play all games within the current framework of the schedule.
“We stressed again today that we cannot grow complacent — not the players, not the coaches, not the rest of our personnel,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday after a remote meeting of team owners. “Ninety percent [compliance with protocols] is not good enough in this environment.”
The Falcons played the Chicago Bears on Sept. 27 after Atlanta rookie cornerback A.J. Terrell reportedly tested positive. The NFL has allowed teams to play games after a small number of positive tests without signs through contact-tracing data of extensive spread of the virus.
The disruption to the Falcons’ schedule comes with Raheem Morris about to oversee his first game as the team’s interim head coach. Morris was promoted to that position after owner Arthur Blank fired Dan Quinn as the team’s coach and Thomas Dimitroff as its general manager following Sunday’s loss to the Panthers. The Falcons are winless in their five games this season.
If there are further positive tests and the Falcons-Vikings game ends up needing to be rescheduled, additional juggling of the schedule also would be required. The Falcons and Vikings do not have a common bye week.