KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Chris Jones of the Kansas City Chiefs was placed in the COVID-19 protocol on Tuesday, one day after wide receiver Josh Gordon tested positive and two days before a crucial game against the Chargers.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid wasn't sure whether either player will be available when the AFC West-leading Chiefs visit Los Angeles on Thursday night. If a player is vaccinated and tests positive, he needs two negative tests taken 24 hours apart to return to the team, which means it's conceivable that Gordon and Jones could be cleared by kickoff.
The Chiefs lead the Chargers by one game in the division race, but already have lost to them once.
“We try to talk to them at least once a week about (COVID-19 protocols),” Reid said Tuesday. “It seems like it's every day, but it's probably once or twice a week that we remind them about it — who you hang with, where you go.”
The NFL sent a memo to teams Monday, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, that announced vaccinated coaches, front-office staff and team personnel would need to receive a booster shot by Dec. 27. The memo said the decision was made due to “the increased prevalence of the virus in our communities.”
The mandate doesn’t apply to players because discussions with the NFL Players Association are ongoing.
“I've done it,” Reid said of receiving the booster shot. “I always let the guys know where I'm at with it. It's not because I'm old, but because with the numbers out there the booster seems to be helping.”
The NFL said that 37 players tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, making it one of the worst days for the league since the pandemic began. The list included 26 players on active rosters and 11 on practice squads, and such notable names as Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Giants wide receiver Kadarius Toney.
“When you're down the stretch run you have to take it serious,” Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said, "because you want to be available. It's just like any injury you would get at this point. You want to do whatever you can to be available to the team. Whether that's distancing in the locker room or with your family, we understand it's part of the world.
“Do the best you can to help yourself and help the guy next to you so that you can be available.”
The Chiefs have had fewer players on the COVID-19 list than just about any team. The only regular is All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu, who tested positive and missed the season opener. Backup wide receiver Marcus Kemp was on the list for 11 days in November and tight end Joey Fortson, who is already on injured reserve, was added to the list last Friday.
It's unclear whether Gordon and Jones were close contacts of Fortson, who had been attending team meetings while on IR.
“You want to put yourself in the same mindset you did a year ago,” Mathieu said. “You get to the back end of the season, you don't want to be one of those guys that's not available. That's the most important thing. This is a big game for us, and every game from here on out has a lot on the line for us. You have to do everything in your power to stay available.”
In other news, Chiefs cornerback L'Jarius Sneed was returning to Kansas City on Tuesday after missing last week's win over the Raiders to be with his grieving family. His oldest brother, T’Qarontarion Harrison, was killed last week in a stabbing in their hometown of Minden, Louisiana.
Police there say a woman, Angela Washington, has been charged with second-degree homicide in the case.
“He actually texted. He told me he loved me. That was all I really needed to hear,” Mathieu said. “He's dealing with a lot right now, but football means a lot to him. It means a lot to his family. In my opinion, and the things I've been through, he has some motivation going forward. He's one of those guys that will capitalize off this.”
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