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The Kansas City Chiefs have a COVID-19 outbreak on their hands, and it extends beyond their 53-man roster.
In addition to placing seven players from the 53-man roster on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday, the team also placed two more players from the practice squad on the list. Both WR Daurice Fountain and LB Darius Harris, who were on the active gameday roster for Week 15, join fellow practice squad teammate Gehrig Dieter on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Why is this a significant development, though?
With this outbreak extending to the practice squad, the NFL might be forced to make a decision to delay the Chiefs’ Week 16 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Chiefs have nearly 25% of the 53-man roster on the Reserve/COVID-19 list along with nearly 19% of the practice squad. Should they continue to have players test positive in the coming days, the team could be in a bind where they don’t have enough replacement players available to bring up from the practice squad to field a full game-day roster.
The league claims they are not delaying games due to competitive disadvantages, but instead doing so to mitigate further spread of the virus on teams with outbreaks. I’d imagine they might bend those rules if a team were unable to field a game-day roster.
Their recent decisions have proven the league is not interested in canceling or having teams forfeit games. On the other hand, as we’ve learned with delays to the Browns-Raiders game and Washington-Eagles game, delaying the game doesn’t always mean players will be activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Even with the NFL’s new return-to-play protocols, the virus has to run its course.
We’ll see what happens in due time. After all, the Chiefs haven’t even held a practice this week, with the first practice ahead of their Week 16 tilt with the Steelers scheduled for Wednesday. This situation will certainly put the league’s new COVID-19 protocols and procedures to the test. It’ll also put Kansas City’s depth to the test.