On Wednesday the NFL advised that the Pittsburgh Steelers-Tennessee Titans game would be postponed until Monday or Tuesday. It’s clear the league was hoping against hope that the outbreak of COVID-19 among Titans players and personnel would be limited and that the game could still be played. But after two more members of the organization—including another player—tested positive for the virus on Thursday, the league announced that the game against the Steelers will not be played during Week Four.
“The decision to postpone the game was made to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel,” the NFL said in a statement. “The Titans facility will remain closed and the team will continue to have no in-person activities until further notice.”
The Titans are now dealing with a total of 11 new positive tests, not including outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen, who tested positive last week and missed the team’s Week Three game against the Minnesota Vikings.
Assigning Blame for the COVID-19 Outbreak?
Ian Rapoport, National Insider for NFL Network, indicates that the NFL has no plans to fine or otherwise penalize the Titans for this development, an indication it believes no members of the organization violated protocol.
#Titans coach Mike Vrabel made the point that it’s a pandemic and it’s “no one’s fault.” The team does have the right to fine players if they violate COVID-19 protocols. My understanding is, at this point, no fines are coming. A sign TEN believes no player violated protocol.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 1, 2020
Meanwhile, the Steelers have decided not to immediately go into bye week mode, continuing on with Thursday’s regularly scheduled practice, this according to Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Network.
The #Steelers are not immediately turning this into a “bye” week. They are indeed going to practice today.
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) October 1, 2020
Re-Scheduling the Steelers-Titans Game
So far the NFL has given no indication as to when the Steelers-Titans game might be played, but the league could conceivably make alterations to the NFL schedule in Weeks Seven and Eight to play the game during Week Seven. A total of three teams would likely be affected in this scenario.
Here’s how it could work: The Steelers play at Baltimore in Week Seven while the Titans have a bye. Meanwhile, the Ravens and Steelers both have a bye in Week Eight. The NFL could choose to move the Steelers-Titans game to Week Seven and the Steelers-Ravens game to Week Eight, in which case Baltimore would get its bye in Week Seven.
T.J. Watt Named AFC Defensive Player of the Month
In other Steelers-Titans news on Thursday, Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt has been named AFC Defensive Player of the Month. The award follows in the wake of Watt earning Defensive Player of the Week honors in Week Two for his performance against the Denver Broncos. Through three games Watt has three-and-a-half sacks, 10 quarterback hits, nine tackles, three tackles for loss, two passes defensed and an interception.
Meanwhile, Titans kicker Stephen Gostkowski has been named AFC Special Teams Player of the Month for September. Gostkowski converted six field goals during his team’s 31-30 victory over the Vikings on Sunday, including the game-winning 55-yarder with 1:44 remaining in the game. Gostkowski also had game-winning kicks at the end of wins over the Broncos and Jaguars during the first two weeks of the regular season.
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