Isaiah Wilson, the Tennessee Titans’ first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, has been sidelined by COVID-19 again.
The rookie right tackle was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list Sunday, a day after the team executed its roster cuts to get to the regular-season limit of 53 players. There is no timetable for his return to the active roster, which requires him to complete a number of protocols to determine he is clear of the virus.
Also Sunday, third-year safety Dane Cruikshank was placed on injured reserve. No details were released regarding what specifically is the issue with the 2018 fifth-round pick who appeared in 28 games through his first two NFL seasons, primarily as a special teams performer.
Cornerback/special teamer Chris Milton and running back Senorise Perry subsequently were signed to fill the roster spots. Both veterans were among Saturday’s cuts.
Wilson started training camp on the COVID-19 reserve list but spent only a matter of days there. He was added to the active roster the same day he signed his first NFL contract.
It is likely not a coincidence that his return comes roughly two weeks after he was named in an incident report by Tennessee State University police after officers broke up a party at an off-campus apartment complex. Coach Mike Vrabel said team officials addressed the incident with Wilson, the No. 29 overall selection in this year’s draft.
“I've talked to him privately and continued to talk to the team and stress the importance of the decisions we make outside the building as it relates to the people we’re around because of COVID,” Vrabel said at the time. “But long before that, we've stressed to them about their behavior outside the building since I've been here. … We have to learn from it, continue to stress the importance that you're not only talking about yourself in this case with the pandemic, but you're talking about other players and their families, as well.”
Created for the 2020 season, Reserve-COVID-19 accommodates players who either tested positive or had been in close contact with someone (or multiple people) known to have the illness. Teams are prohibited from saying which is the case.
Wilson was expected to compete with veteran Dennis Kelly to be the Titans’ right tackle this season. Due to Wilson’s late start at camp and his adjustment to the professional game, it turned out not to be much of a contest. Kelly is expected to be the starter in the Sept. 14 opener at Denver.
“Your first year with anything you're doing that's new, you just try to find a family in there,” Wilson said during camp. “I've been accepted by the team and just trying to learn everything you can. Go out there and actually implement it in what you're doing. … You're just trying to find your place in the new group of people that you are with.”
Unfortunately for him, he has found his way back onto the COVID-19 reserve list.