NASHVILLE – Mike Vrabel made it clear that not all of the Tennessee Titans players have elected to have the COVID-19 vaccines.
The fourth-year head coach however, indicated that a good number of players have – and that the number continues to grow even as training camp begins.
“I’m comfortable with where we’re at,” Vrabel said Tuesday. “We continue to add players, as recently as (Monday), to the vaccination list. And guys are continuing to research and educate themselves to make a personal decision that we said it was all along.
“It’s a personal decision and hopefully one that they can come to that will help them and will help this team.”
The NFL recently informed teams that a COVID-19 outbreak during the 2021 regular season could cause a team to forfeit a game or games, and that players would not be paid for games that are canceled under those circumstances. Additionally, unvaccinated players are subject to stricter protocols than their vaccinated teammates when they are within the team facility and on the road at hotels.
Coaches and staff members who interact with players are required to be vaccinated.
That has led to speculation about the impact the issue might have on teams with a lesser percentage of vaccinated players, both in terms of how players view their teammates personally and any potential disadvantage that might result from players operating under two sets of rules during their workday.
“The first thing is that, obviously, this is something that is sensitive to everybody,” Vrabel said. “It’s also important to everybody in the league, to the fans, to the players, the NFL, the NFL Players’ Association. It’s important for all of us to make sure that we’re well aware of what the protocols are for vaccinated and unvaccinated players and that we follow those without reservation ... and the responsibility that each one of us has to this game, to this league and – most importantly – to this team.”
Tuesday was the first official day of Titans training camp. According to Vrabel, 60 players reported and went through a conditioning test, the results of which Vrabel said were “excellent.” They also were scheduled to take part in meetings, and the first on-field practice with the entire 90-man preseason roster is set for Wednesday morning.
There were 30 others – primarily quarterbacks, rookies and injured players – who arrived on Saturday.
In addition to all the regular activity that comes with the start of training camp, there has been plenty of discussion about the vaccine.
“We just focused on making sure that we continue to educate our players, to let them make the best decision for them and – hopefully – this football team and ... to make sure that they’re following the protocols exactly the way that they’ve been laid out by the Players’ Association and the NFL,” Vrabel said. “… The percentages, I’m very comfortable with where they are … and I would expect them to continue to go up.”