“It’s a real deal. COVID kicked my ass.”
Those were the words of Cardinals left guard Justin Pugh Thursday, describing the experience he had with the coronavirus when he was on the reserve list from Aug. 18 to Sept. 2.
Pugh played 66 of the team’s 69 offensive snaps in Sunday’s 38-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans after practicing for the first time following his stay on the COVID list— just six days before the game. He said he missed two because of “a blunder” when he needed an IV just before halftime.
“To play almost every snap on Sunday was great for me,” he said. “It was a goal of mine to go out there and play. And I'm still getting my legs back up under me. So I'm just gonna keep getting better and better as this thing rolls.”
Reflecting on his time away from the team. Pugh said, “COVID kicked my ass. I was on the close contact list early in camp. No symptoms, nothing. And then actually getting it, it was rough. The first three days, I didn't feel too much, started feeling better. I was like, I'll be three, four days. I kind of had a little arrogance about it.
“And then it knocked me on my ass and there were three or four days there where I was hurting and slow to get back into things.”
Asked whether he has had any after-effects, Pugh said, “I had a little bit of a cough. The lungs were on fire that first practice last week, but everyone's was. We had a four-day weekend. So I was asking guys, ‘Are you tired?’ And everyone was saying they were tired. So, it's a little bit of both. But it's a real deal. It's a real deal. I was in a rough spot. I'm just glad to be back. Glad to be around my teammates.”
He joked what home life was like being isolated.
“My fiancee was getting ready to kick me out of the house,” Pugh said. “I was always asking for certain things or trying to get water, but I was quarantined on the other side of the house, so I had to ask her to, ‘Hey, can you give me water? Can you give me this? Can you give me that.’ She was getting ready to boot me out as well. The Cardinals took me back graciously, so I'm happy to be here.”
Pugh had those rough days despite being vaccinated, and admitted he thought his bout with the virus wouldn’t be bad.
He said, “I thought being vaccinated; it was going to mitigate some of those issues, but you don't know with this. I've been trying to do a lot of research on it as well and the different variants depending on which variant you catch, it's going to affect you differently and everyone's body's responds differently to it. So it just so happened that I caught the one that I was least ready for I guess.”
When it was mentioned that if hadn’t been vaccinated, it might have been worse, Pugh said, “Yeah, it could have been; it definitely could have been. I'm obviously not a scientist, I'm a left guard, so we'll leave all the science to the true scientists.”
And he can go back to just being a left guard.