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Raiders cancel practice as NFL deals with positive coronavirus tests

Updated August 23, 2020 - 4:39 pm

The Raiders canceled their workout Sunday amid reports that a testing partner of the NFL had reported several false positive COVID-19 tests a day earlier.

Media members covering the Raiders’ 7:30 a.m. workout at their Henderson facility were told the full-pad practice was changed to a “maintenance day” that included all normal aspects of a regular workday sans the morning workout.

A Raiders spokesperson said the cancellation was unrelated to the coronavirus issues facing other NFL teams Sunday.

Among teams reporting false positives, the Minnesota Vikings had 12, the New York Jets 10 and the Chicago Bears nine. The league has asked the New Jersey lab, BioReference, to investigate the results “while the clubs work to confirm or rule out the positive tests.” The NFL did not identify the teams or say how many tests were positive.

The Jets canceled a walk-through Saturday night, but had a full practice Sunday morning after the previously positive tests came back negative. The Bears moved their practice scheduled for Sunday morning to the afternoon.

The Pittsburgh Steelers said they had six false positives and that those players will return to practice Monday. The Philadelphia Eagles held out four players in Sunday’s workout. The Cleveland Browns called off their workout.

Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 — even a false positive upon a retest — is required to have two more negative tests before being cleared to return.

For the Raiders, the testing snafu was a reminder of the shadow COVID-19 is casting on everything that was previously normal about their routine this year.

“Coming in here, we knew things were going to be different,” Raiders safety Erik Harris said. “And then we’ve been here awhile, and we get involved with the new routine and you don’t really think much about it. It starts to feel kind of normal. And then something like this pops up, and it kind of puts it in reality that any second, any time, that something like this can happen to a player, coach or whatever.”

The NFL uses BioReference for its COVID-19 testing, though tests are handled by labs throughout the nation to ensure teams get results quickly, perhaps within 24 hours. Entering the weekend, there had been four confirmed positive tests for players who were at training camps.

A league spokesperson told the Review-Journal that the decision regarding practicing Sunday was up to each franchise.

“Clubs are taking immediate precautionary measures as outlined in the NFL-NFLPA’s health and safety protocols to include contact tracing, isolation of individuals and temporarily adjusting the schedule, where appropriate,” the NFL said in a statement. “The other laboratories used for NFL testing have not had similar results.”

The number of positive COVID-19 tests from a specific facility that might be false demonstrates the precarious position the NFL is in less than three weeks from the regular-season opener.

“Definitely probably better that this happened now than three weeks from now,” said Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane, whose club had some of those positive results.

Meanwhile, Raiders players hope that the abnormal routine they have grown accustomed to gets back to normal.

“Hopefully they get things situated,” Harris said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter

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