The NFL and NFLPA have confirmed four players have returned positive results following the latest round of coronavirus testing.

For the period of August 21-29, the NFL administered 58,621 tests to 8,739 players and members of team personnel.

In addition to the four positive tests among players, six personnel members were found to have contracted COVID-19.

The San Francisco 49ers on Monday announced that linebacker Fred Warner had been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

However, league rules prevent the 49ers from confirming whether Warner has contracted the virus or if he has simply come into contact with a person who had.

The 2020 NFL season starts on September 10 when the Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans.

Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium will be at 22 per cent capacity for the season opener as the United States continues to fight the spread of coronavirus.

The USA has over six million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has suffered 188,000 deaths.

Mike Zimmer believes the Minnesota Vikings can add to the game of pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue after acquiring him in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Vikings sent a second-round pick and a conditional fifth-round selection that can become a third-rounder for defensive end Ngakoue.

Ngakoue has at least eight sacks in each of his four seasons in the league and his 14 forced fumbles are the fourth-most in the NFL since he was drafted in 2016.

In Minnesota he will pair up with another dynamic pass rusher in Danielle Hunter, who is coming off successive seasons with 14.5 sacks.

Asked about the acquisition of Ngakoue in a media conference, Zimmer said: "He's a guy who's had a lot of statistics as far as forced fumbles, sacks.

"Another pass rusher to add to our group. We're excited to have him.

"He's got some really good pass rush moves. We think we can add to his game a little bit with some of the other ones with [defensive line coach] Andre [Patterson], so hopefully that can help."

The Vikings' 2019 season was ended in the Divisional Round of the playoffs with defeat to the San Francisco 49ers.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins was sacked six times in the 27-10 loss as the Vikings proved unable to handle a San Francisco defensive line led by edge rushers Nick Bosa and Dee Ford.

With Hunter and Ngakoue, the Vikings have a dynamic young duo of their own and Zimmer knows their partnership can be a significant advantage for a defense that is inexperienced in the secondary.

"A lot of times if you've got one guy there, they chip him, use a tight end to block, use a [running] back to block. If you've got two [pass rushers] it keeps a little bit more in protection," he explained.

"If they end up singling guys you get some more favourable matchups."

Zimmer has yet to decide whether Ngakoue will be deployed in a single position or moved around the defensive front.

Responding to a question on that topic, Zimmer said: "Is it ok if I just see him in practice one day?"

Zimmer expects Ngakoue to practice on Thursday as the Vikings prepare for their season opener with the Green Bay Packers on September 13.

The San Francisco 49ers have placed linebacker Fred Warner on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Warner being added to the list means he has either contracted COVID-19 or come into contact with a person who has tested positive.

A third-round pick in 2018, Warner has become an integral part of a 49ers defense that was among the best in the NFL last season.

He finished the regular season with 118 tackles, three sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception returned for a touchdown as the 49ers topped the NFC with a 13-3 record.

San Francisco then progressed to Super Bowl LIV, with Warner intercepting Patrick Mahomes in the 49ers' 31-20 defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs in February.

 

The Jacksonville Jaguars have released Leonard Fournette ahead of the new NFL season. 

The running back had looked set to leave earlier this year after the Jaguars chose not to pick up his fifth-year option before shopping him around before the draft. 

However, having failed to find a willing trade partner, Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said he expected Fournette to remain in Jacksonville for the forthcoming campaign. 

But the Jaguars confirmed via Twitter on Monday that the 25-year-old had been waived. 

Fournette, the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, rushed for 1,152 yards in 2019 – statistically his best season as a pro – and added another 522 yards on 76 receptions, though he only had three touchdowns.

His release comes a day after the Jaguars traded pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue to the Minnesota Vikings.

Joe Burrow has been tipped to lead the Cincinnati Bengals "to a lot of points" after head coach Zac Taylor confirmed the rookie quarterback would start Week 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers.

In truth, there was little doubt Burrow would take the role for the Bengals once they moved on from veteran Andy Dalton during the offseason, but Taylor has been encouraged by what he has seen from the first overall pick.

Heisman winner Burrow had a record-breaking senior season with LSU – who became national champions in January – and will hope to translate that form into the professional ranks with the Bengals.

In a news conference with reporters after Sunday's scrimmage, Taylor was asked what had impressed him about the quarterback.

"His command of the offense; leadership in the huddle; understanding of what he's got to do to move this offense; his competitiveness; his urgency," he said.

"Certainly, there's areas to clean up, there's no question about that, but he's got a great grasp.

"We're in sync in terms of how we see things and how we think of things.

"We haven't had a chance to be on the field too much together, but it is important to start to see things the same way.

"I really feel like we're making a lot of progress in that direction.

"He's just been impressive. He's what we expected when we took him number one overall, hasn't disappointed one day he's been out there."

The coronavirus pandemic has shortened the NFL offseason and deprived Burrow of any preseason games to test himself against NFL opposition.

However, Taylor retains faith that a Bengals offense that includes veteran wide receiver A.J. Green and running back Joe Mixon will put up points with Burrow at the helm in 2020.

"Poise is his middle name – I guess that's one way to put it – not much fazes him," Taylor added of Burrow.

"Probably the thing that gets him the most is when he feels like the error is his own, to not duplicate the same mistake twice.

"But he's a competitive guy and we expect him to lead this offense to a lot of points."

Yannick Ngakoue is set to be traded to the Minnesota Vikings after they reportedly agreed a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

According to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Vikings will send a second-round pick and a conditional fifth-round pick that could become a third-round choice for the defensive end.

The conditional fifth will become a fourth if Ngakoue makes the Pro Bowl and will turn into a third-rounder if he earns a Pro Bowl nod and the Vikings win the Super Bowl.

Franchise tagged by the Jaguars in the offseason, Jacksonville and Minnesota must also come to an agreement on when he signs his tag so the trade can be completed while the Vikings face the prospect of having to make several moves to fit his near $18million salary on their books.

When the trade is verified it will give the Vikings a pass rusher who has the talent to make a significant impact for a team that reached the Divisional Round of the playoffs last season.

Ngakoue has at least eight sacks in each of his four seasons in the NFL. He had 12.5 in 2017, when he made the Pro Bowl and the Jaguars reached the AFC Championship game.

The trade pairs him with another dynamic pass rusher in Danielle Hunter, a two-time Pro Bowler who heads into 2020 after successive 14.5-sack seasons.

For Jacksonville, it gives the Jaguars more draft capital as they bid to rebuild their roster. The Jaguars are the favourites to have the worst record in the NFL and receive the number one overall pick in the 2021 draft.

Tom Brady quickly impressed new coach Bruce Arians in his first Tampa Bay Buccaneers scrimmage.

Veteran quarterback Brady is preparing for his first NFL season since leaving the New England Patriots, where he won six Super Bowls.

It did not take long for the 43-year-old to show his class, leading a 16-play, 98-yard touchdown drive on his first possession as a Bucs player at Raymond James Stadium.

Arians delighted in Brady's strong start, telling reporters: "I thought Tom was very, very efficient and did a good job of leadership.

"When you get the first long drive of the year, guys start dragging. He got them in the huddle and he got it rolling, you know? Keeping under the 25-second and 40-second clock pretty good.

"We weren't close at all, but he was commanding that pretty good. Overall, I thought he had a hell of a day. Overall, I was pretty pleased."

Brady acknowledged he is still adapting, though, not helped by the absence of a preseason schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic, limiting Tampa Bay to intrasquad scrimmages.

"It's very different with no preseason games and learning against our own team constantly, not travelling at all," Brady said, turning his focus towards the September 13 opener against the New Orleans Saints.

"We've got to take advantage of the time we have because we still have time to practice, but it is coming fast and I think today was a good day for all of us to see it's right around the corner.

"We need to tighten some things up so we will be ready to go against a great football team in a couple weeks."

Multiple NFL teams cancelled their Thursday practices in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The New York Jets, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Arizona Cardinals, Washington Football Team and Los Angeles Chargers were among those not to take to the field.

It comes amid widespread protests in the Unites States following the shooting of Blake, who was repeatedly shot in the back by police on Sunday.

His father said he has been left paralysed from the waist down.

Washington were the first to cancel practice, their decision coming shortly after the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted Game 5 of their first-round NBA Eastern Conference series against the Orlando Magic.

All of Wednesday and Thursday's NBA playoff games were postponed.

The Cardinals were among those to cancel their practice entirely, with head coach Kliff Kingsbury later addressing the media to explain the decision.

"What happened to Jacob Blake was horrendous and it has to stop," he said.

"I know it sounds hollow at times because you hear the same things over and over, but we wanted to make sure our players know that we support them and we're here for them.

"There's time where football takes a backburner and we felt like this was one of those moments as an organisation. 

"We wanted our players to know that we support them and want them to have a day to be with their families, be able to reflect on things, be around friends, be around each other and then use the day to help make that change the way to see.

"Whether it's on social media, using that platform that they have, or if it's going to register to vote or trying to get other people set up to register to vote, we just wanted them to know this is their day and I felt like it was important to our organisation."

Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake wrote on Twitter: "We have the day off today to educate and reflect on who we are as individuals and here we need to progress as people. 

"I'm honoured to be in an organisation of men and women who lead the charge for change in this country."

Jets running back Le'Veon Bell appeared to send a message to the NFL when he wrote: "We've been protecting the shield. It's time for the shield to protect us."

New Orleans Saints players did take to the field, with each player wearing a helmet with Blake's name written on it.

The Pittsburgh Steelers also practiced, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told reporters: "Everyone has the choice to choose to what level and what degree they want to use their platform.

"I think the biggest thing right now is to listen to my African-American team-mates and friends that aren't even in football just to get a better understanding to educate myself."

The Carolina Panthers wanted to do something more impactful to support protests against racial injustice than cancel their practice session, said coach Matt Rhule.

Games in the NBA, WNBA, MLB and MLS were postponed on Wednesday after the shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin – footage of which was shared widely on social media.

Blake's family says he has been left paralysed from the waist down and the incident has led to further protests against racism and police brutality in the United States.

They follow global Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd dying in police custody in Minneapolis in May after an officer knelt on his neck for seven minutes and 46 seconds.

Some major sports teams showed their support for the protests by pausing their activity, but Rhule explained the Panthers' decision for continuing with a scheduled training session at Bank of America Stadium.

"When I saw the NBA had cancelled, I met with a couple of leaders on our team," said Rhule.

"I know they had talked and just sort of said, 'Where are you guys' thoughts at? Where are your hearts, where are your minds, in terms of practising or not practising?'. I know they had mixed emotions. I was there to support them no matter what.

"They wanted to be in support of the NBA and of social justice, but I think in the end they also felt like they wanted to do something impactful. They wanted to take some time and do something more than just missing a Wednesday night practice.

"They recognised a lot of people here in Charlotte were anticipating seeing them playing and I just think they felt like, 'Let's do this at the right time'.

"As some of the players told me, the perpetual rage, the perpetual anger and fear and disenfranchisement and all these things that guys are feeling, it manifests itself in different ways.

"It's not right that the guys were forced to feel this way, that even though we stand out on the streets and protest and demand change, these things aren't changing and are still happening.

"I do think the message I heard today is, 'It's time for change'. We just can't keep doing this and saying something is going to change, we have to make a change and I think the Carolina Panthers are completely committed to that."

The Dallas Cowboys are weighing up whether they should try and sign veteran safety Earl Thomas, team owner Jerry Jones has said.

Thomas was cut by the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday for "personal conduct that adversely affected" the AFC North team, with the seven-time Pro Bowler reported to have had a training camp fight with a team-mate two days earlier.

Back in 2017, Texas-born Thomas, who played his college football for the state's Longhorns, told the Cowboys to "come and get me" when his time with the Seattle Seahawks ended.

However, the boyhood Dallas fan signed a four-year deal with the Ravens last year and, though he is now available again, a report from NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport said the Cowboys were not expected to make an offer for Thomas.

When that was put to Jones, he told 105.3 The Fan: "He doesn't know what he's talking about. He has no idea what he's talking about.

"The only one that knows that is me, standing right here."

Jones said that Dallas were doing their due diligence and discussing whether Thomas was a player they wanted to go after.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Xavier Woods are slated to be the starting safeties for Dallas, who lost versatile defensive back Byron Jones to the Miami Dolphins in free agency.

"One of the biggest things that you weigh - it's obvious but it's right - is you evaluate where we are at safety, in the secondary, with our numbers," Jones said.

"We are going to have limited time as far as our evaluation is concerned. These decisions - like the one you're talking about with Earl - they're never served up like a softball, they always come in awkward, in a lot of different ways.

"That's where I step in and basically put all this together to see whether or not it is smart to make a decision like that.

"I haven't visited personally with Earl, I don't know that anybody has, but that would probably be the next step, if we are at a point where we need to sit there and activate this thing.

"We know the player, we've got a good read, everybody in the league does.

"You know where he is skill-wise and where he is at this part of his career. All of those go into consideration. We have a lot of things to put in and then I'll make a decision."

Grant Delpit will miss the entire 2020 NFL season after rupturing his Achilles tendon, the Cleveland Browns announced on Tuesday.

Rookie safety Delpit sustained the injury during practice on Monday and will undergo surgery to correct the issue.

The second-round pick out of national champions LSU had to deal with a high ankle sprain throughout his final college season but arrived at the Browns' training camp in full health.

He had spent time working with the first-team defense when Karl Joseph, who signed a one-year, $2.5million contract with Cleveland in free agency, was granted rest.

After receiving unanimous first-team All-American honours in 2018, Delpit won the Jim Thorpe Award in a junior year that saw him accumulate 65 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and seven pass breakups for the undefeated Tigers.

The Browns are scheduled to begin their 2020 season at the Baltimore Ravens on September 13.

Roger Goodell made clear his remorse at the way the NFL handled Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem, saying: "I wish we had listened earlier".

The quarterback opted to kneel during the 2016 season in protest against racial injustice and police brutality. He was released at the end of the campaign by the San Francisco 49ers and has not played in the league since.

Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL in 2017, accusing owners of colluding to keep him out of a job. A settlement was reached in his case in February 2019.

Appearing on former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho's YouTube series titled 'Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man', Goodell was asked what he would say in a public apology to Kaepernick 

"Well, the first thing I'd say is I wished we had listened earlier, Kaep, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to," he told Acho.

"We had invited him in several times to have the conversation, to have the dialogue. I wish we had the benefit of that.

"We never did and, you know, we would've benefited from that. Absolutely."

Goodell also spoke about the topic of players kneeling in general, insisting such an action has been misinterpreted as being unpatriotic and anti-military.

Instead, the commissioner believes it is a message to "bring attention to something that needs to get fixed".

"It is not about the flag. The message here that what our players are doing is being mischaracterised," Goodell said.

"These are not people who are unpatriotic. They're not disloyal. They're not against our military. In fact, many of those guys were in the military and they're a military family.

"What they were trying to do is exercise their right to bring attention to something that needs to get fixed.

"That misrepresentation of who they were and what they were doing was the thing that really gnawed at me."

The Baltimore Ravens have confirmed the release of Earl Thomas after an altercation with Chuck Clark in practice.

Seven-time Pro Bowler Thomas clashed with his team-mate during training camp on Friday, with reports alleging a punch was thrown at his fellow safety.

And on Sunday the Ravens announced they had taken decisive action against the 31-year-old.

"We have terminated Earl Thomas' contract for personal conduct that adversely affected the Baltimore Ravens," the team said in a statement.

Posting to his Instagram story shortly after the news was confirmed, Thomas wrote: "Appreciate the Ravens organization for the opportunity.

"Had a great run ... Wish things would have ended different but you live and you learn.

"Thank you [Ravens GM] Eric DeCosta and everyone else who played a role in bringing him to B-More. Wish you guys the best."

Thomas signed a four-year deal in the previous offseason and was voted to the Pro Bowl after starting 15 games, in which he made 47 tackles and had two interceptions, helping the Ravens to a 14-2 regular season record.

 

The NFL is investigating several positive coronavirus tests from clubs serviced by the same laboratory.

With the 2020 season set to get under way on September 10, the NFL was dealt a setback following a number of positive results from Saturday's round of testing.

However, with all of those coming from one lab that serves a number of franchises, the league announced it was looking into the matter as teams initiated precautionary measures.

An NFL statement read: "Saturday's daily COVID testing returned several positives tests from each of the clubs serviced by the same laboratory in New Jersey.

"We are working with our testing partner, BioReference, to investigate these results, while the clubs work to confirm or rule out the positive tests.

"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 other laboratories used for NFL testing have not had similar results."

The Cleveland Browns announced they had been informed of positive results among players, coaches and support staff, though none were displaying symptoms.

Despite concerns over the accuracy of the tests, Cleveland have ordered those who were shown to have contracted COVID-19 to self-isolate.

A Browns spokesperson said: "After consistently receiving encouraging results from daily testing since returning to the facility in July, the Cleveland Browns' COVID-19 testing process conducted yesterday initially indicates multiple individual presumptive positive cases that include players, coaches and support staff.

"Although we have received indication from the NFL that they are investigating irregularities in lab results that have also impacted other clubs, out of an abundance of caution, we will immediately follow our comprehensive infectious disease emergency response plan and pause any activity in our building today and conduct meetings virtually.

"As per plan procedure, the team is also diligently reviewing proximity data for contact tracing and instructed self-isolation for those who tested positive and others as appropriate even though they all remain asymptomatic.

"Our facility is currently undergoing a thorough deep-cleaning and disinfecting process and is closed to all personnel for the day. We will provide updates as testing results are confirmed and more information is available."

The Chicago Bears were informed of nine positive results from Saturday's testing but said on Sunday they had been confirmed as false positives.

Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane revealed they were one of "10 or 11" teams dealing with the issue and would consequently be missing players during practice on Sunday.

Head coach Ron Rivera is aiming to maintain his focus on the Washington Football Team after revealing his skin cancer diagnosis this week.

Rivera, who was hired at Washington in January after leaving the Carolina Panthers, has been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, although it is at an early stage and "very treatable and curable".

The coach is determined to lead Washington in the coming NFL season and believes the distraction could help him.

"It is very good [to focus on coaching], it really is," Rivera said. "That's one of the things that the doctors talked about: when I can work, focus.

"Focus on that because it'll detract from the other things that are going on. A lot of the time that helps get people get through situations and circumstances.

"My intent is to do everything that I'm supposed to do, follow the doctors very carefully and, again, the things that I can do, I will do."

Rivera is aware he may yet have to take some time to himself, though, adding: "For me, personally, it's another challenge. It's a challenge that I accept, I understand what it is.

"I'm realistic about it. I've got to continue to be the person that I am and be disciplined about it, go about my business, do things that I need to do, take care of those things.

"But more importantly, and one of the doctors said it very eloquently, is that: 'At some point, coach, you're going to have to be selfish. Take care of you.'

"So again, I'm realistic about this. I'm trying to be realistic about the approach."

The coach even suggested his potential absence could prove a "learnable moment" for Washington.

"Without a doubt," he said. "Because to me - let's say coach has to step back - are we going to wait for somebody else to step up or are we going to step up ourselves?

"So, I think this is all part of our growth, I really do. Again, it's going to be a learnable moment and we'll find out a lot more about ourselves."

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