Last week, Kansas City Chiefs star safety Tyrann Mathieu was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list after testing positive for COVID-19. With less than a week to go until the team's regular season opener against the Cleveland Browns, the team's Monday update is that things are still fluid.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid spoke with the media on Monday. With a contest versus a high-profile opponent like the Browns quickly approaching, the hope for the Chiefs is that Mathieu will be able to play. With that said, Reid acknowledged when asked if he had a designated game status for Mathieu that there are still some hurdles left that need to be cleared.
"I don't," Reid said. "He's still in protocol, so we just have to wait that out and see where he's at. I'll know more as we go on. I knew that was going to be the first question, though."
Mathieu is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, so that helps his case in relation to league protocols. Per Kevin Patra of NFL.com, vaccinated players who happen to test positive but are asymptomatic are allowed to return to their teams after consecutive negative tests that are taken 24 hours apart. If symptoms exist, a 10-day isolation comes into play.
With the presence of symptoms affecting a player's timeline for a possible return, it has the ability to make the Mathieu situation a bit dicier. Sam McDowell of The Kansas City Star reported last Wednesday that Mathieu was not experiencing any symptoms that come with having COVID-19. No reports since then have indicated otherwise.
If that remains the case, then the 29-year-old safety very well could record two negative tests in time to return to practice later this week. If things change, the 10-day period could retroactively kick in on Sept. 1 and give Mathieu just enough time to potentially play in Week 1 — assuming he is healthy enough to do so.
There's no dancing around the fact that the Chiefs need Mathieu on the field in order to perform at a high level. His instincts, IQ and leadership are among the best in the entire NFL. Daniel Sorensen and Juan Thornhill are competent players in their own respective rights, but they aren't Mathieu. As a result, the organization is hoping that he clears protocols and is ready to go for Sunday's showdown with Cleveland.