Dennis Kelly a 'Dictator' When it Comes to Enforcing Coronavirus Protocols

Mike Hogan

Old habits die hard. New ones take time to build.

The Tennessee Titans -- along with 31 other NFL teams -- have plenty to get used to as training camps open amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Face coverings will be enforced most of the time. Social distancing, while nearly impossible in football, will be a focal point. Good hand hygiene, of course, will be important. Players must also make sure that they act with just as much caution while away from the facility. The list goes on.

Titans offensive tackle Dennis Kelly, who is the team’s union player representative, is trying his best to make sure everyone gets used to football COVID-19 style quickly. According to some of his teammates who spoke with reporters Monday, Kelly has already made it clear that under his watch, there will be no lapses in compliance.

“I think Dennis would be an unbelievable dictator in any county with the way he’s been handling the mask thing,” tackle Taylor Lewan said. “Although it’s been very annoying, he’s doing a good job.

“Dennis and I already got into it today about my mask. It was below my nose. He made sure and told me the protocols and what to do.”

While being the guy who holds teammates accountable for such rules may be difficult, Lewan said Kelly is “definitely not worried about being annoying from that sense, which is good.”

Kelly, who signed a three-year contract extension with the Titans earlier this offseason, embarks on his eighth NFL season (fourth with the Titans). The 6-foot-eight, 321-pound Kelly will compete with first-round pick Isaiah Wilson for the starting right tackle job this summer.

No matter his role on the field, his attention to detail and willingness to hold teammates accountable for the little things may be just as important this season.

With that in mind, Titans safety Kevin Byard said the safest and healthiest teams will be successful ones in 2020.

“He’s really been anal about it,” Byard said of Kelly. "We’re all getting used to these new rules and protocols and wearing a mask and stuff like that, and I think it’s good.

“At the end of the day, man, the safest team and the healthiest team this year, I think is going to be the one that’s going to be playing in January and February."

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