Titans defensive play-caller in COVID-19 protocol, didn’t travel Sunday

Sports

Tennessee Titans outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen, left, and head coach Mike Vrabel watch players during NFL football training camp Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (George Walker IV/The Tennessean via AP, Pool)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Titans found out the day before their Sunday Week 3 game in Minnesota they would be without their defensive play-caller and outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen.

This was first reported by Buck Reising of A to Z Sports and Paul Kuharsky of 104.5-The Zone, but later confirmed from Mike Vrabel during a Zoom call.

“Shane Bowen wasn’t with us and is not currently with us as it stands today because of the COVID protocol that we have to follow,” said Vrabel. “Saturday morning when we get those results back, then we make plans and work through all those things, whether that be any sort of situation that’s our job to be able to handle it and function and move on and make sure the team has everything it needs.”

Vrabel said his team had a plan in place should something like this happen for a game day and it included an increased role for special teams coordinator Craig Aukerman.

“Craig Aukerman takes on probably a little larger roll if I’m over with the defense for an extended period of time but for the most part not much has changed. I tried to still stay involved with the offense but if something would happen where we need a time out, Craig would have a headset and would be able to call a timeout or something if I wasn’t standing there.”

It’s not typical for a special teams coach to wear a headset, but Vrabel said in this instance it was the best plan of action. As far as who handled the outside linebackers in this situation, Vrabel said the duties were split between defensive assistant Matt Edwards and himself.

When you’re dealing with a highly-contagious infection like COVID-19, the concern is for who could have been in close contact with the infected. The NFL is able to monitor contact tracing, but Mike Vrabel, when asked about the concern, didn’t want to provide too much detail.

“I’ve said about all I’m going to say as it results to our COVID-19 protocol other than we’re following the hundred memos the league sent out verbatim. We’ll keep you updated on the roster as it relates to who has to be out and who doesn’t, but that’s all I’m going to stay on that front.”

If a player has to be placed on the COVID-19/reserve list, it is considered a transaction and will be communicated by the team, but a coach is a trickier situation. When it comes to a timetable for his return, no disclosure is required.

“I’d say we followed all the protocols as it relates to COVID,” said Vrabel. “That’s all I’ll say about it and then as everything else we’re not into timetables or return to play or coach.”

Strangely enough, this is the second time in three years the Titans have been without their defensive play-caller on game day. In November of 2018, then-defensive coordinator Dean Pees left the coaches box mid-game to rush to a nearby Indianapolis hospital due to a medical issue.

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