Falcons reopen practice facility

In this May 22, 2018, file photo, the Atlanta Falcons defensive unit runs an agility drill at the NFL football teams practice facility in Flowery Branch, Ga. The Atlanta Falcons shut their facility Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, following one new positive test for COVID-19. The team remains scheduled to play at Minnesota on Sunday. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, File)

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

The Falcons reopened their facilities to players, coaches and staff Friday, just a day after shutting down after a player was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and an assistant coach tested positive.

The Falcons' facilities were reopened under the NFL’s supplemental intensive protocols.

“The mask protocol is in high affect,” Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris said Friday. “We have to do some different deals. Mask on the fields. Player separation on the field. In-person meetings only in two areas, be it the team meeting room or the indoor facility.”

All of the coaches' meetings are virtual or in one of the two bigger facilities.

“Just taking ultimate precautions in these times of uncertainty, especially when you are talking about the COVID-19,” Morris said.

Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, in consultation with medical experts, determines when a club must follow the Post Exposure COVID-19 procedures.

“Everything dealing with the disease and COVID-19 and what we’ve got to deal with, I will follow to the highest and protect the team at all costs, even if it means shutting down a practice like yesterday,” Morris said.

The players found out about the shutdown when they reported Thursday.

“We had to get tested for COVID-19 in the cars and things like that,” defensive end Dante Fowler said. “They told us that we wouldn’t be able to come into the facility because of people who tested positive. We had virtual meetings and everybody was on top of that. We were able to overcome that and still be able to get a good day of mental work in.”

Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich doesn’t believe the Falcons will have a problem following the additional protocols.

“We’ve been so ultra-cautious through this entire process that not much has really changed,” Ulbrich said. "I know that the league has mandated a few more rules, but they are rules that we were kind of already abiding by.

“We are a part of this organization and league that is taking this thing very seriously.”

The Falcons have had nine players placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and one coach test positive. Rookie defensive lineman Marlon Davidson was placed on the list Monday.

“We’ve had them in the intensive protocol this week specifically knowing that other cases could arise,” Sills said. “Since we did have that index case on Sunday into Monday. We’ve done contact tracing to identify any high-risk individuals that we would need to remove.”

“Even at the beginning of the season when this was even a thought, I would sit with coach (Dan) Quinn a bunch and formulate plans that you would have to go to in case a person went down,” Morris said. “For every position, we had to go through that process of who was going to do what for who and how.”

“In consultation with the team, they decided to make all of their activities virtual,” Sills said. “We’ll obviously continue to monitor that situation very carefully and stay in contact with them as well as in Carolina.”

Morris already had plans in place to split duties if one of the coaches contracted the disease and was unavailable.

“Even at the beginning of the season when this was even a thought, I would sit with Coach (Dan) Quinn a bunch and formulate plans that you would have to go to in case a person went down,” Morris said. “For every position, we had to go through that process of who was going to do what for who and how.”

Falcons' next four games

Falcons at Vikings at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18al trial

Lions at Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday Oct. 25

Falcons at Panthers at 8:20 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29

Broncos at Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8

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