NASHVILLE – Titans coach Mike Vrabel is ready to get back in the building -- and to get back to playing football.
And he said his team is ready, too.
"Our guys prepared for the season, they want to play," Vrabel said. "I know they are anxious to get back, to get out on the practice field, and to continue to play games. And to compete against a very good Buffalo team that is 4-0. … We know the challenge, and that is where our focus is."
After having a game against Pittsburgh rescheduled for later this month because of a number of positive COVID-19 tests, the Titans are scheduled to face the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
Vrabel, however, conceded the organization is still dealing with plenty of unknowns, which hinge on whether the team goes a third consecutive day without a positive test on Wednesday morning. Vrabel said he usually gets word on test results around 4:30 a.m. each day.
"I'm hopeful, excited, that we've been able to string together a couple of really good days as far as the testing and really just getting back to where we were," Vrabel said. "We're hoping for some continued good news tomorrow morning and then we'll see where we are with the league, and we're hopeful to return and be able to get back in the building safely.
"There's a lot of speculation. We haven't been cleared to go back in the building. We're working through numerous schedules as it relates to what Wednesday afternoon might look like, and Thursday and Friday, as we work toward our preparation. Meetings are going well – I think the players have been very intentional with their time in the meetings, trying to stay engaged, and the coaches as well. We'll get those going tomorrow and as soon as we hear from the league, and we'll try and get everybody in whenever we can."
Since winning in Week 3 at Minnesota, the Titans have placed defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons, receiver Adam Humphries, cornerback Kristian Fulton, outside linebacker Kamalei Correa, fullback Khari Blasingame, defensive lineman DaQuan Jones and long snapper Beau Brinkley from the 53-man roster to the COVID-19 list, along with tight end Tommy Hudson and receiver Cameron Batson from the team's practice squad. Those players joined practice squad cornerback Greg Mabin on the COVID-19 list. Mabin was placed on the list prior to the trip to Minnesota in Week 3.
Last week, Vrabel said Titans outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen did not travel with the team to Minneapolis due to COVID-19 testing protocols. Vrabel said other team personnel have also tested positive for the coronavirus as well, but he's declined to reveal names.
"The most important thing is always going to be the players," Vrabel said. "Without them, we don't have a game. But I am hopeful that we'll get most of the staff members back. The ones that aren't won't have role in the game. … I think we are set up pretty good to be able to handle some of these things at each position. The versatility we have on the staff at different places (helps). We're just going to try and prepare the team and take the 48 guys that we feel like give us the best chance to win on Sunday. … I know that our staff is ready to teach and ready to prepare the players for the game on Sunday."
Vrabel said those who tested positive for COVID-19 are "progressing and doing well."
But Vrabel said he's not expecting any of the players who've been on the Reserve/COVID-19 list to be available vs. the Bills. He discussed the team's players on the practice squad and said, "I'm looking forward to seeing them play."
"I don't think there's going to be a shortened return (to play) based on (whether guys) had symptoms," Vrabel said. "I think we're just going to have to let this play out, let the protocols work themselves out as it relates to the time away. And then especially the return to play, the ramp up period that we've seen from other players on our team or throughout the league that go through this ramp up period and monitor the cardiovascular health."