A fourth member of the New England Patriots has tested positive for COVID-19, forcing Monday night’s game with the Denver Broncos to be postponed.

Byron Cowart, a second-year defensive tackle who started the first four games, is the latest player to test positive, according to a report by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

The Patriots, who were scheduled to have a bye next weekend, now will play Denver next Sunday at Gillette Stadium. The Broncos’ schedule has been altered by the NFL to allow them to play the Patriots.

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Titans, who have not played since Sept. 27, had a 24th member of the organization, reportedly a coach, test positive over the weekend. The Titans have had 13 players and 11 staff members test positive over two weeks, and their headquarters are shut down.

The Titans had a game last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers postponed but are still scheduled to play the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday night.

Last week, the league had pushed the Patriots-Broncos game back by one day after cornerback Stephon Gilmore tested positive for COVID-19 last week, preventing New England from practicing three days in a row.

That came just days after quarterback Cam Newton tested positive, forcing last week’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs to be shifted from Sunday afternoon to Monday night. Bill Murray, a practice squad defensive lineman, is also on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

The Patriots finally returned to Gillette Stadium on Saturday morning for their lone practice of the week, but on Sunday morning, when a walk-through and meetings were scheduled, the facility was once again shut down because of Cowart’s positive result from a test taken on Saturday.

Per NFL protocol, the Patriots were scheduled to be tested again on Sunday.

During a video conference with the media Saturday afternoon, cornerback Jason McCourty voiced his displeasure with how the situation is being handled by both the NFL and the NFL Players Association.

“Throughout all of this, the realization is it’s not a league-wide thing. It’s kind of a team thing,” said McCourty, who is currently living in a hotel to keep his wife and children shielded from potentially getting COVID-19.

“For us in this locker room, this is what we have between the players, the coaches, the administration, the staff, it’s up to us to take care of one another to make sure physically we’re all set and make sure mentally (too), because I think outside of here, the people who don’t have to walk into our building, whether it’s the league office or whether it’s the NFLPA, they don’t care.

“We’re trying to get games played and we’re trying to get the season going. For them, it’s not about what’s in our best interest or our health and safety. It’s about what can we make protocol-wise that sounds good, looks good and how can we go out there and play games.

“What I kind of learned personally throughout this situation, it’s going to be up to us as individuals in this building to really take care of one another and that’s beyond just trying to be responsible and do things the right way COVID-related.”

The Patriots had an NFL-high eight players opt out of the season during the summer because of coronavirus concerns. Asked on Saturday if he thought of opting out, defensive lineman Lawrence Guy said, “Can’t opt out no more.”

He added, “It’s one of those things you’re hoping the protocols are in line. I felt (Coach) Bill (Belichick) did the best thing he could do (shutting down the stadium last week). He looked at the safety of our players and coaches and personnel. You see he truly cares and was looking out for the best interests of our players and that’s something that gives you more confidence. I’m going to come in to work today and I know the person in charge of this team cares about our safety.”

The Broncos practiced all week to play the Patriots, but it turned out to be a bye week for them. They were scheduled to host the Miami Dolphins next Sunday, but that game has been moved to Nov. 22. A game on Nov. 22 against the Los Angeles Chargers has been shifted to Nov. 1, which was going to be Denver’s bye week.

In all, nine teams are being affected – New England, Tennessee, Denver, Buffalo, Kansas City, Miami, the Los Angeles Chargers, New York Jets and Jacksonville – as the NFL juggles its schedule to accommodate for the virus outbreaks among the Patriots and Titans.


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