The New England Patriots went back to work Saturday in preparation for their twice-postponed game against Denver even as they added three more players to the COVID-19 injury list.
Offensive lineman Shaquille Mason and defensive lineman Derek Rivers were added to the list Saturday, as was running back Sony Michel, who was already on injured reserve with a leg injury. The moves come a day after center James Ferentz was added to the COVID-19 list, prompting the team to cancel practice Friday and close its facility.
A Patriots spokesman said Saturday that the team was proceeding with its usual day-before walk-through but all meetings would be virtual. The game against the Broncos was originally scheduled for Oct. 11, then pushed back one day and then rescheduled for noon Sunday after a fourth Patriot tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Broncos had COVID-19 news of their own Saturday: Running backs coach Curtis Modkins tested positive and won’t make the trip to Foxborough, Mass. He is in isolation and has no symptoms.
Elsewhere, the Jacksonville Jaguars said that a practice-squad player tested positive. The team placed 12 players on the practice squad COVID-19 list, 11 because they have been in close proximity with the infected teammate.
It benefited the Jaguars that it separates practice-squad players from those on the 53-man roster, creating an extra level of protection to help prevent an outbreak.
The Jaguars also placed defensive end Josh Mauro on the regular COVID-19 list. He had been suspended the first five weeks of the season but rejoined the team Monday and spent the week with the practice squad.
Those on the list will need three negative tests to be removed. The Jaguars (1-4) are confident they will host the Lions (1-3) on Sunday as scheduled, even though they held football activities remotely Saturday as part of NFL safety protocols.
Also dealing with COVID issues in recent days: the Atlanta Falcons, Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens.
The Colts had four positive tests that came up negative upon retesting. The Falcons returned to their facility one day after abandoning it because of a second positive.
The Patriots already had the Week 5 matchup against the Broncos postponed following four earlier positive coronavirus tests by players, including quarterback Cam Newton and cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
Gilmore, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, and Newton returned to practice this week for the first time since testing positive. Newton missed the Patriots' road loss to the Chiefs on Oct. 5 after his Oct. 2 positive test. He was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday. Gilmore, who tested positive Oct. 7, was activated from the list Thursday. Practice squad player Bill Murray also returned from the COVID-19 list Thursday.
Defensive tackle Byron Cowart, who tested positive Oct. 11, was joined on the list by Ferentz.
The Broncos haven’t played since Oct. 1. If they play Sunday, they’ll have had 16 days between games, one day longer than the Tennessee Titans' ayoff before they beat the Bills on Tuesday night following the NFL’s first COVID-19 outbreak, which affected two-dozen members of the organization.
The Broncos' layoff is the longest in the league since 2001, when the NFL postponed all games on the weekend following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Three teams — the Saints, Steelers and Buccaneers — had byes when play resumed a week later, so they all had 20 days between games that year. Of those three, only the Steelers won in their return to action.
The Colts closed their practice facility, then the four retests came back negative and the building reopened.
Cleveland Browns star receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who was ill and sent home Thursday and not allowed to practice Friday, had his second negative test in 24 hours. That cleared him to play Sunday against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
The Ravens placed defensive tackle Brandon Williams — a key figure in the run defense — on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The team isn’t saying if he tested positive or came in close contact with someone infected.
The Falcons left as scheduled in two planes for their game game Sunday in Minnesota. The team said defensive end John Cominsky was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and defensive line coaches Tosh Lupoi and Jess Simpson did not make the trip.
The Falcons have moved Edmond Robinson and defensive tackle Chris Slayton from the practice squad to the active roster as COVID-19 replacements. Earlier this week, the team placed rookie defensive tackle Marlon Davidson on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The Falcons had to shut their facility Thursday but reopened Friday after one nonplayer tested positive.
Associated Press reporters Barry Wilner, Mark Long, Arnie Stapleton and Dennis Waszak Jr., Jimmy Golen, Mike Marot, Steve Reed, George Henry and David Ginsburg and freelancer Gethin Coolbaugh contributed.