CINCINNATI — There has been plenty of speculation that Major League Baseball could stop its season after 11 players on the Marlins tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend.
While baseball plans to continue, many have wondered what this means for the NFL season? If 11 players in a non-contact sport contracted the virus in just a few days, won't it spread even easier in a contact sport like football?
49ers star cornerback Richard Sherman knows players are going to contract COVID-19 during the season, but he doesn't think the league will stop play like the NBA and MLB did earlier this year.
“I don’t see the league saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to shut down if 10 people get it, 15 people get it, 50 people get it,’” Sherman told Pro Football Focus on Monday. “I see them saying, ‘Hey, remove those people, replace them with new people and continue the game.’
“If half a team gets it, forfeit the game, and next game keep moving forward. That’s the way I see them finishing [the season].”
The NFL has expanded practice squad rosters to 16 players this season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The league will also allow teams to promote any practice squad player to the 53-man roster to replace someone that tests positive for COVID-19. Once the player is deemed healthy and can return to the field, the replacement can be sent back down to the practice squad without going through waivers.
“If a team has an outbreak, they’ll forfeit the game, quarantine those people — unless they can replace these people in the time between they (test positive) and the game,” Sherman continued. "This isn’t going to be the prettiest football. This is going to be a year you see some high interception numbers, some high injury numbers. The league still doesn’t know how practice is going to go and we’re about to head in.”
The Bengals are going to have to make up a lot of ground since they have a rookie quarterback and a lot of new faces on the roster.
Joe Burrow needs as many reps as he can get, which means keeping him and the players around him healthy has to be the Bengals' number one priority.
The NFL changed their initial rule about pre-training camp testing. Players must test negative for COVID-19 three times before entering team facilities.
Rookies reported last week and veteran players report to Paul Brown Stadium on Tuesday.