Positive coronavirus test disrupts Rams’ preparations for Tampa Bay

Rams head coach Sean McVay watches his team during the second half against the Miami Dolphins.
Rams head coach Sean McVay watches his team during the second half against the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 1 in Miami Gardens, Fla.
(Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press)

While several NFL teams were affected by COVID-19 through the first 10 weeks of the season, the Rams seemingly had no problems.

No players or staff members tested positive. None of the Rams’ games were postponed or moved because of positive tests on other teams.

But the Rams’ weekly routine was disrupted after the team announced late Tuesday night that an unidentified player had tested positive. On Wednesday, the Rams announced they had placed three practice squad players on the reserve/COVID-19 list: tight end Kendall Blanton, defensive back Jake Gervase and receiver J.J. Koski. Placement on the list does not mean a player tested positive.


None of the three had been active for a game this season.

With the Rams (6-3) scheduled to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) on Monday night in Tampa, the Rams on Wednesday conducted all meetings and football activities remotely as part of the NFL’s intensive COVID-19 protocols.

The Rams have announced that a player has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a team statement released Tuesday night.

The Rams became the latest team to be impacted by COVID-19. On Tuesday, the New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons and Las Vegas Raiders had put players on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

The NFL on Wednesday sent a memo to all teams mandating that they operate under the intensive COVID-19 protocols the rest of the season. Those protocols, among other directives, include holding meetings virtually or in the largest possible indoor spaces. Since training camp, the Rams have held meetings virtually or in an outdoor, open air tent that was constructed in the parking lot at their Thousand Oaks facility.

“We are implementing further enhancements to our protocols to address current conditions, in particular the sharp growth in COVID-19 cases in our communities and the related increase in cases among our players and other club employees,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in the memo obtained by The Times. “The upcoming holidays, beginning with Thanksgiving next week, will introduce new risks of exposure that we need to address now. … It has been said many times that our 2020 season cannot be ‘normal’ because nothing about this year is normal. Flexibility and adaptability have been critical to our success to date and we must continue with that approach. I am convinced that if we remain focused and committed to adhering to our protocols, and to adjusting them as experience requires, we can play a full 2020 season that is not simply normal, but extraordinary.”

Only a few Rams players have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Offensive lineman Brian Allen tested positive in April, and offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth said he and family members tested positive during the summer. Rookie outside linebacker Terrell Lewis’ ability to participate in team activities was delayed after he tested positive in August. Then came Tuesday’s announcement regarding another player.

For the first time this season, the Rams had Jalen Ramsey follow a receiver all over the field — the Seahawks’ DK Metcalf, who was held to two catches.

The Rams defeated the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at SoFi Stadium. In a postgame video that was posted to social media by the team, coach Sean McVay told players he would see them Wednesday, indicating they would be off Monday as well as their regularly scheduled day off Tuesday. Players are still required to be tested every day, a team official said.

Of all the weeks to be affected by COVID-19, this might be the least damaging. Because they are playing Monday, the Rams essentially had an extra day built into their preparation. On Wednesday players were scheduled for meetings and a brief walkthrough.

Practice is scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday.