Following the announcement that Minnesota Vikings Infection Control Officer and lead trainer Eric Sugarman had tested positive for coronavirus, the Vikings have now placed several players on the NFL’s COVID-19 reserve list a day before veterans are expected to arrive at training camp.
First-round rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who was drafted No. 22 overall with a pick the Vikings received from the Buffalo Bills trade for Stefon Diggs, headlines the group of four rookies. Jefferson, safety Brian Cole and offensive linemen Blake Brandel and Tyler Higby join six other NFL players who have been placed on the list in the past 24 hours.
The new reserve list was created for players who either test positive for COVID-19 or have been quarantined after they were in close contact with an infected party, per a statement the Vikings issued.
The Vikings cannot disclose the details of whether a player is infected or not, per an NFL and NFLPA agreement, but a team official said that all four players had not been in contact with Sugarman, Pioneer Press beat reporter Chris Tomasson said.
Roughly 40 players have been reported in attendance at training camp since last Thursday, according to The Athletic’s Chad Graff. Sugarman was unaware he had the virus until this weekend, which is when he contacted the Vikings organization. He is reported to have “mild symptoms.”
Vikings players must pass two tests before being let into the training facility, meaning the soonest veterans will be allowed into the facility is this weekend. Sugarman will continue to fulfill as many of his responsibilities virtually and the Vikings staff will assist anywhere necessary.
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Jefferson Facing Another Setback?
This offseason has been anything but kind to rookies who have missed rookie OTAs in the spring and have been learning through virtual offseason training. Now, Jefferson and the other rookies’ development could be even more delayed with the potential he misses time at training camp.
According to the Star Tribune’s Andrew Krammer, if a player tests positive, they could miss a minimum of five days (asymptomatic, two negative results) or 10 days with symptoms. Players on the list could return to the Vikings training facilities in 24 hours if they were only placed on the list for contact tracing.
Full-contact practices are scheduled to begin on Aug. 17, meaning any player on the list could continue with the camp program from home — to a degree — much like they had been for most of the offseason.
If players will continue to be added and subtracted from the list throughout training camp, it’ll be another wrinkle in the Vikings’ 15-man rookie draft class’ development.
Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.