Two days before the Minnesota Vikings faced one of the top teams in the NFL, quarterback Kirk Cousins tested positive for the coronavirus and was placed on the team’s Covid-19 reserve list, a move that would get him off the field for at least five days.
Cousins and the Vikings (7-8) are one game behind in the NFC playoff race, a gap the team hoped to close in Sunday night’s prime time against the Green Bay Packers. Instead, Cousins’ absence will take a serious toll on his team’s chances, a familiar scenario in a season where widespread positive testing among NFL players and coaches has thrown teams’ preparations into chaos.
After more than 90 NFL players tested positive on Monday, the NFL and NFL Players Association agreed Tuesday. to change this season’s Covid-19 protocols To reflect new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccinated and unvaccinated players can return after 5 days, not 10 days, if they are asymptomatic. The league has a 94 percent vaccination rate among players.
The change has given other teams trying to qualify for the playoffs to hope that star players can return before key games on Sunday and Monday, the penultimate week of the regular season. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz, for example, was among 39 players who tested positive on Tuesday. He’ll be judged on Sunday before his team’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders, who are two games behind in the AFC playoff race.