RENTON -- The Seahawks placed a total of six players, four from their active roster, on the COVID-19 reserve list on Sunday.
On a day when the team had initially been scheduled to play the Los Angeles Rams before the game was postponed until Tuesday, the Seahawks had to place cornerback D.J. Reed, right tackle Brandon Shell, defensive end Kerry Hyder Jr. and running back Travis Homer on the COVID-19 reserve list. Additionally, practice squad guard Pier-Olivier Lestage and cornerback Mike Jackson also were placed on the list.
Head coach Pete Carroll has said that only two of the players on their roster are unvaccinated. If a player is vaccinated, the only way they can land on the COVID-19 list is with a confirmed positive test. That makes the likelihood that these additions to the list are from positive cases.
Seattle had placed wide receiver Tyler Lockett and running back Alex Collins on the list on Thursday after both players tested positive. They had been just the second and third cases of COVID-19 the Seahawks have had in two seasons. Tight end Gerald Everett was a positive case in October.
While the league did amend protocols earlier this week to allow players that have tested positive to return to the team in quicker fashion, the time crunch before Tuesday's game may make it challenging for any of the new additions to the list to be available against the Rams. Lockett and Collins still have time to test out of protocol as well.
The game was moved to Tuesday afternoon due to the Rams have a large outbreak of positive cases that reached as high as 29 players at one point split between their active roster and practice squad. The Seahawks-Rams game was one of three games that were postponed this week due to high positive cases, including the Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns (from Saturday to Monday) and the Washington Football Team at Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday to Tuesday).
The Rams have seen a few players, including Odell Beckham Jr. and Jalen Ramsey, clear protocol and return to their lineup over the last two days. However, they still have 23 players on the COVID-19 list.
Reed and Shell are starters for the Seahawks at their respective positions. Shell's status for this week's game was in doubt regardless of COVID-19 due to a shoulder injury that kept him out last week as well. He has yet to practice this week with the team. Hyder and Homer are key rotational pieces.
The NFL made sweeping changes to its COVID-19 protocols on Thursday in coordination with the NFL Players' Association. The changes include the rules by which a vaccinated player can return to action. Previously, the protocol said a player must have two negative PCR tests on consecutive days in order to return to action. Under the new rules, a player has much more flexibility to get cleared to play. The threshold is still two negative tests. However, the tests can be either the PCR tests or the rapid, MESA, tests. Additionally, the tests can be taken concurrently instead of needing to be separated by 24 hours. These changes allow for a player to potentially be cleared to return faster than under the previous protocols.
The negative tests would still need to be registered prior to the 1 p.m. PT deadline on Saturday for roster moves for a player to play in a game on Sunday.
Additionally, the league adapted their testing protocols for the rest of the season moving forward. Since data across the league says a large majority of positive cases are currently completely asymptomatic, the NFL will no longer test vaccinated players unless they are outwardly experiencing symptoms.
Head coach Pete Carroll said Friday that he wasn't focused on any disadvantage that might come from the moving of the game. He just wished people weren't getting sick.
"It doesn't have anything to do with that, with competitive disadvantage or advantage, I don't think," Carroll said. "We're trying to get as many guys able to play as possible with the thought of looking after everybody and making the right decisions in the midst of this kind of surge that we've seen in the league and around the country and around the world, and we're trying to make good decisions. As so many decisions we make, we don't have a lot of background on these things. You know, you just got to figure it out what you're going to do and go for it. We're not going to let this affect us at all. We have already jumped into our adjustment and all that and we'll go play. It's going to be Tuesday instead of on Sunday. So that's the only way we're going to look at the thing."
However, Carroll did say he would be interested in seeing whether the delay of the game actually resulted in more players being available.
"It's gonna be really fascinating to see what happens here is by changing the game for two days, you know, did more guys get to play? You know, in terms of the COVID thing. I'm really curious about how that's gonna work out. We'll learn a lot. If that doesn't happen, then I don't know why we did it. But we'll see what happens though and wish everybody the best," Carroll said.
Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 05: George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers catches the ball over D.J. Reed #2 of the Seattle Seahawks for a touchdown during the first quarter at Lumen Field on December 05, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)