The New York Jets placed right tackle George Fant on the team’s Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday, ESPN’s Field Yates reported.
Fant is one of 15 players around the league that were placed on this list, 14 of which were a result of a positive COVID-19 test. It remains unknown whether Fant was one of those positive tests. If he was, he will be re-tested before having to self-isolate.
Per the NFL’s new COVID-19 protocols for 2021 training camp and preseason, all non-vaccinated players are required to quarantine after High Risk exposure to COVID-19. Therefore, if Fant did test positive, any Jets offensive linemen (and potentially players from other position groups) that have not been vaccinated will have to isolate as well.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh said Tuesday that the Jets have an “above average” vaccination rate, but declined to say how many players are vaccinated. It is unclear whether Fant has received the vaccine.
One of New York’s close contacts in this scenario is Greg Van Roten, who lines up directly adjacent to Fant on the right side of the offensive line. Van Roten, who has been vaccinated, spoke about the team’s vaccine policies on Tuesday after training camp, saying he is against the idea of putting wristbands on players to signify their vaccination status.
“I’m not sure what the Jets plan is,” Van Roten said. “Personally, I don’t think it’s right to publicly single people out for a private, personal decision. I understand how it would possibly affect the team in the long run if someone contracts it. I think guys have had the opportunity to make an informed decision. I don't think we need to publicly pressure or shame anybody by a scarlet letter.”
From a personnel standpoint, this news comes merely hours after Saleh praised Fant’s efforts this spring, implying that there would be a competition between him and Morgan Moses for the starting right tackle job.
“George Fant had a fantastic OTA’s and did a really nice job in minicamp, and he’s got all the tools necessary to be a successful right tackle also, so there’s a lot of competition from that spot and it’s going to be fun to watch,” Saleh said in his first training camp press conference.
If Fant is forced to miss time, Moses will get the chance to further cement his role as New York’s starting right tackle, with Fant operating as a swing tackle upon his return.
“I had a quick conversation with George. He’s a grown man. He gets it," Saleh added. "But at the same time it’s an external motivator. Just talking to George, I don’t really think he’s phased. I think he’s one of those internally motivated individuals that’s going to come out here, work his tail off, do everything he’s done since we’ve arrived in this building and whatever happens happens.”
For the Jets, who had fairly few COVID-19 issues last year compared to the rest of the league, one potential positive test isn’t a huge surprise. Intake testing as players report to camp yielded the highest positivity rate at any point of the 2020 season, so a fair number of positive tests around the league were to be expected when teammates reconvened for the first time in weeks.
The next round of testing will shed more light on several players’ availability early in the training camp process.
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