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Titans Coach Mike Vrabel: The Players Said, "Coach, We'll Play Whenever They Want Us To Play"


NASHVILLE – Titans head coach Mike Vrabel spoke to reporters on Wednesday, not long after the NFL announced Sunday's Titans-Steelers game is being rescheduled.

The exact date for the contest at Nissan Stadium is TBD, and the league said it could be played Monday or Tuesday.

"The Steelers-Titans game, originally scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, will be rescheduled to allow additional time for further daily COVID-19 testing and to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel," the NFL said in a statement. "Details on a new game date and time either on Monday or Tuesday will be announced as soon as possible."

Here's what Vrabel said during a video conference call:

-Vrabel said some of the Titans players who've tested positive for COVID-19 are experiencing "flu-like symptoms, but nothing I think out of the ordinary. We anticipate that they will feel better shortly. … My concern is always with the safety and the health of our players, their families, our staff, and their families. And then also, the individuals that have tested positive, I think their mental state is strong."

-Vrabel said the Titans had a "great" team meeting this morning. After a break midday, zoom meetings will continue later today, he said. Titans OC Arthur Smith, OLB coach Shane Bowen and special teams coach Craig Aukerman met with the three units as well, and meetings with position coaches will continue to take place.

Vrabel said players were engaged in meetings on Wednesday morning.

"I met with the team and asked them questions, tried to engage with them, showed them film of Pittsburgh, and went through what I think are the keys to the game," he said. "We have to hold each other accountable and be ready to go. No one instructed them to go practice or to do anything of that nature."

Vrabel said he's not sure when team officials will be allowed back in the building. He said it could be earlier than Saturday, or even later.

"We are preparing to play the football game now as early as Monday," Vrabel said. "I am confident the league will allow us time to practice, to get (players) on the field, and then moving with the game."

-Vrabel said the Titans continue to go through daily COVID-19 testing.

So far, the Titans have placed defensive lineman DaQuan Jones and long snapper Beau Brinkley from the team's 53-man roster the Reserve/COVID-19 list, along with tight end Tommy Hudson from the team's practice squad. On Monday, Vrabel said Titans outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen did not travel with the team to Minneapolis for Sunday's game due to COVID-19 testing protocols.

Vrabel said he's not one of the "other five" personnel who've tested positive, and he declined to name who else has tested positive aside from the players the team is required to turn into the NFL as part of the league's daily transactions.

"I know there's going to be a lot of questions about, 'Who's to blame? And, 'Where it started?'," Vrabel said. "Nobody is to blame. We're in a pandemic. No one is to blame. We are not interested in trying to blame anybody. We want to make sure we are doing everything we can to make the players safe and that this doesn't happen again."

Vrabel said the Titans have followed all the protocols "by the letter" and "this is a very unfortunate situation, but one we're confidence that we will be able to handle safely with the football team and the players' best interest in mind."

-Vrabel said the team's injured players are allowed to be in the building with a reduced training staff to continue rehabbing injuries.

Receiver A.J. Brown (knee) hasn't played the past two weeks, and left tackle Taylor Lewan (shoulder) is also recovering from an injury he suffered at Minnesota. Earlier this week, Vrabel said he was hopeful cornerback Adoree' Jackson (knee) and tackle Isaiah Wilson (COVID-19 list) could practice this week.

As of right now, a lot is uncertain, however.

"(The players) will get treatment," Vrabel said. "When it's time to evaluate them on the field when we are able to practice, then we can take a look at them and see where they're at. But right now all they can do is treat when we asks them to treat and be in meetings when we ask them to be in meetings."

-Vrabel said the Titans are looking for options to replace Brinkley, who snaps for field goals and punts.

While center Ben Jones is listed No.2 on the depth chart, Vrabel indicated GM Jon Robinson and his staff are trying to identify guys to work out "and then going with one of those guys in the game. It will be a new long snapper, and that's something we'll have to deal with."

-Vrabel said the Titans will make no excuses, and said they'll be ready to face the Steelers.

"We've worked on short weeks before," Vrabel said. "We've played three games in 13 days. … It will be important that the time we do get to spend practicing, we take advantage of it."

"(The players) said, "Coach, we'll play whenever they want us to play, and under any circumstances we'll prepare the best that we can, and we'll play," Vrabel said. "There's been no pushback. I asked this morning to just check in mentally, to see where they were. Guys were understanding of the situation, guys weren't looking to point fingers or blame anybody, they were looking for ways to make us better and help us out in this situation. … We are proceeding to play not on Sunday, but potentially Monday or Tuesday.

"We'll be ready, we'll be focused."

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