According to multiple reports, a team trainer was sent home after testing positive, and the five players deemed close contacts were all sent home as well. Close contacts other than the 32-year-old wide receiver included outside linebacker Matt Milano, inside linebacker A.J. Klein and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei – all starters – as well as second-year wideout Gabriel Davis.
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The Bills are set to take on the Green Bay Packers in their final preseason game on Saturday, which is four days away, so the club will be without all five players. Buffalo plays the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week One of the regular season at 1 p.m. on September 12.
Other Key Players Must Stay Away From Team Facility Too
Tuesday’s COVID-19-related announcement came the same morning as the Bills began making their second round of preseason cuts to their roster. By 4 p.m. Tuesday, the team will need to have their group of players down to 80, which puts them in a slightly precarious situation.
WGR550 Bills Beat and Sideline Reporter Sal Capaccio noted that with one linebacker cut already on Tuesday, and Milano and Klein sent home due to protocols, head coach Sean McDermott is down to six healthy LBs.
Of the half-dozen players in the linebacker crew, Marquel Lee was only just activated from the COVID-19 list last week.
Capaccio did add however, that if any of the five players sent out of the practice facility on Tuesday were to be placed on the COVID-19 list, that would impact their roster count.
Milano is entering his fifth NFL season, all with the Bills, and was limited to just 10 games last season. Despite the limited action, Milano still recorded career-highs in sacks (3.5) and quarterback hits (9), while making 45 tackles and hauling in one interception.
The 30-year-old Klein is entering his ninth season as a pro and second with the Bills. He played in all 16 games last year, including 11 starts, and had career-highs in sacks (5.0), quarterback hits (9) and tackles (75).
Like Klein, Lotulelei was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the 2013 NFL draft. Lotulelei has been a model of consistency over his NFL career, starting in all 16 games in each of his past four seasons played – he opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beasley, Davis Are Crucial Wide Receivers on Bills Depth Chart
Perhaps the most famously outspoken anti-vaxxer in the league, Beasley is also coming off of arguably his best pro season. The slot receiver racked up career-highs in receptions (82), receiving yards (967), targets (107), yards per reception (11.8) and first downs receiving (53) in 2020 in 15 games played.
Davis meanwhile, was the Bills fourth round pick in the 2020 draft and had a very solid rookie season playing mostly behind Stefon Diggs, John Brown and Beasley. In 16 games (11 starts), the youngster had 35 receptions on 62 targets for 599 yards and seven touchdowns.
With Diggs working his way back from a lingering knee injury, the prompt healthy return of Beasley and Davis will be key for Buffalo has they prepare for the upcoming regular season.