The NFL dealt with an unexpected problem late on a Standard Monday: The most positive COVID tests since start of the pandemic. 37 players and staff were positive, of which at least one with the Omicron variant. This is a bit alarming news as it’s not only a high number of positive players (with a few games missing, including several starters tonight for Monday Night Football), but the NFL tests generally go up and down with the rate. of positivity in the general population.
It’s unclear whether these positive tests are linked to the more contagious but (so far) less dangerous Omicron variant, or part of a winter bump after Thanksgiving. While the general population will certainly see an increase in hospitalizations and deaths, the NFL is significantly more vaccinated and younger with better and easier access to health care than the general population. This means that players and staff are unlikely to suffer from any major health issues, but will instead run out of time while they are contagious.
Note with the number of positive tests on this standard Monday, a significant portion of those who test positive played in matches yesterday. These players include the Falcons special team Emmanuel Ellerbee, who was placed on the Reserve / List COVID-19 Monday. Ellerbee, who you may remember as spending the offseason with the Falcons in 2018 before landing on the practice squad, returned this 2021 offseason to be on the practice squad again. He was elevated to the active roster on November 18, 2021 and is playing against special teams during this time.
The Falcons had two other players placed on the reserve / COVID-19 roster along with Ellerbee: cornerback Cornell Armstrong and linebacker Quinton Bell. If you don’t recognize these names, it’s because the two were signed into the team’s practice squad. Neither has played a cinch for the team this season, with Armstrong signing with the Falcons just six days ago.
For the Falcons, this should only have a limited impact on the current squad. yet, if this is part of a trend of increasing cases of COVID in the general population, or if there has been a spread of these players, we could see a number of additional players on this list in the coming days. . The Falcons, suddenly with playoff odds in the realm of possibility, can’t lose many players to COVID before the important game against the San Francisco 49ers.