Quinn believes Falcons’ COVID-19 testing has gone smoothly

The first order of business for the Falcons when they arrive for work is getting tested for COVID-19.

The coaches go first and then the players.

So far, seven players have been placed on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list. Five have been activated from the list, while fullback Keith Smith and safety Jamal Carter remain on the list. It is not known if any coaches have tested positive or come in contact with someone who has tested positive.

“That part was a big unknown for a lot of us,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said on Wednesday. “It has really gone more smoothly than I even expected.”

After the testing and before Quinn does any football-related business, he gets the report from the previous day’s testing.

“As far as the process to go through, it’s been quick for the players to get that many people tested in a certain amount of time,” Quinn said. “You stay regimented through it. But it’s been good so far.”

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Falcons safety Chris Cooper was activated to the roster from the team’s reserve/COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Cooper either tested positive for COVID-19 or was in quarantine after exposure to the coronavirus.

Cooper, Smith, Carter, rookie safety Jaylinn Hawkins, defensive tackle Tyeler Davison, quarterback Danny Etling and linebacker Foye Oluokun have all been placed on the league’s reserve/COVID-19 list.

Smith and Carter have been on the list for 15 days as the Falcons have been staying on top of the testing that was negotiated between the NFL and the NFL Player’s Association with the hopes of the league playing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Quinn has been pleased with the direction from Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer.

“They’ve done a good job, both the union and the NFL of providing us information,” Quinn said. “We have Zoom calls as a league. Videos from the league. We’ve also had calls with our own doctors specifically on COVID-19.”

As the league has been able to amass information since the veterans report on July 28, Quinn and the Falcons have been flexible.

“For all of us in the country, I think we’ve learned that there are a lot of things that move with it,” Quinn said. “So, we are just trusting their opinions as we are going. We are trying to stay up to speed on the protocols that they’ve changed.”

Falcons running back Todd Gurley and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett questioned the league’s commitment to player safety before coming to camp. They have changed their tune and are pleased with the testing and self-distancing measures.

“I think that’s one thing both the league and the (NFLPA) are doing a good job of, OK this came up, what are we going to do to address it, as opposed to this is what we said and we’re sticking to it,” Quinn said. “(We are) making sure that we are always staying progressive on it. I’ve been impressed by that.

“The cooperation and the team work from the both the NFLPA and the league doctors. From both sides, the player and the league talking, the management council, the whole thing. There are a lot of moving parts to this and I think they are working extremely hard at that.”

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has been impressed with how Quinn has been managing the team through the pandemic.

“It’s really important to see the organization, the players and the coaches all coming together,” Dimitroff said. “Dan is leading the charge very, very well. I’m very proud of watching him navigate through a pandemic, which is unfathomable for most of us.”

Three NFL head coaches, Los Angeles Chargers’ Anthony Lynn, New Orleans’ Sean Payton and Philadelphia’s Doug Pederson, have had brushes with COVID-19. Payton’s case was back in the spring and Pederson returned to practice after five days on Wednesday. Lynn revealed on the HBO show Hard Knocks that he’s had COVID-19.

The Falcons have a contingency plan if something happens to Quinn.

“You have to talk about it No. 1 and then even it can go down a lot of layers,” Quinn said. “So, Jeff Ulbrich would be the one that would be able to take on that role. Certainly, Bob Sutton would support him on some of the things needed from game management as well.

“Each of them have a contingency where you go into it. What about if it’s multiple people and so those are the ones that you get into because it was easy one for one and then what about if both Jeff and I, those are the ones where you get doubled up. That kind of tic-tac-toe, it took too long so I can give you the first layer.”


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