The Monday Night Football game between the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos is reportedly being moved back a week after the latest positive coronavirus test for New England.
Early on Sunday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the league had mandated that the Patriots' practice facility shut down and that the status of the team's contest against the Broncos was in question after a new COVID-19 case emerged. He later tweeted that the NFL would have the Broncos and Patriots play on October 18 instead, leading to what will be a larger shift in the schedule.
"Broncos-Patriots game is being moved to next Sunday, sources tell ESPN. Broncos were supposed to play Miami; that won't happen," he wrote, adding that the other game would also be rescheduled.
It was not yet clear just how this will all happen, though some insiders have suggested that the NFL may need to add an extra week to the end of the season for make-ups.
As Broncos Wire reported, this was the fourth positive COVID-19 case for New England, an outbreak that includes quarterback Cam Newton and All Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The spate of cases resulted in the league moving the contest to 5 p.m. ET on Monday, and now it is reportedly being pushed back again.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk noted that the incubation period for the virus means that there could be more infections yet to be uncovered. He noted that the case revealed on Sunday could have been someone who was in contact with Gilmore early last week, as the cornerback's COVID-19 test results didn't come back until Tuesday.
Florio, who has been critical of the league's plans to move forward this season with little contingencies, said this is the inherent difficulty of playing during a pandemic.
"That's the heart of the problem with pro football in a pandemic," he wrote. "The incubation period coupled with the testing technology creates a significant donut hole that allows a chain of positives to snake through the process undetected. Or, more accurately, detected too late."
The NFL has already shifted its schedule considerably, moving an October 4 contest between the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers after an outbreak among Titans players and staff. Tennessee's game against the Buffalo Bills has shifted forward to Tuesday but is reportedly in doubt as well if any more Titans players or staff are infected.
The Patriots have also already played without Newton after his positive COVID-19 test, forcing the team to move forward with veteran backup Brian Hoyer as starter. It was not clear if Newton would be ready to play against Denver.