UPDATED: Nov. 20, 11:30 a.m.
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Eagles have placed three players on the reserve/COVID-19 list after wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside tested positive for the virus. With Arcega-Whiteside, running back Corey Clement and defensive end Vinny Curry were placed on the list. And wide receiver Deontay Burnett, who was identified as having been in close contact with Arcega-Whiteside, was placed on the practice squad COVID-19 list.
A third wide receiver, John Hightower, also a close contact of Arcega-Whiteside, missed practice because of an illness, but he was not deemed high-risk for COVID-19.
Earlier this week, the NFL released a new standard for intensive COVID-19 protocols, including virtual team meetings and mask-wearing by all players and staff at all times while at the facility or practice. Although this protocol does not start until Saturday, the Eagles are already abiding by it.
The roster changes come two weeks after Eagles safety Marcus Epps reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. He has been on the COVID-19 list since Nov. 5.
Matt Pryor missed a game while on the list, though he did not contract the virus. Lane Johnson, Nate Gerry and Jordan Mailata were on the list before training camp began.
Adjusting to the 'new normal'
COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country, and the NFL is seeing players and staff members from different teams test positive.
Eagles safety Jalen Mills believes the NFL is doing everything it can to try to keep players and coaches as safe as possible.
“COVID is going into play,” said Mills. “Honestly, I think the league is taking that extra step knowing that guys are going to get sick on teams.”
Players are indeed going to get sick, but the league is hoping to get through its season without suspending play. With more intensive protocols come more virtual team meetings. Mills said there are always challenges with fewer in-person meetings, but it is something the team has adjusted to.
“It's kind of helpful that we were in the intensive protocol before,” he noted. “Now we know what to look for and how meetings will be run, how practice will be run, walk-throughs, and different things like that. I don't think there's going to be any difficulty as far as staying on the same page.”
Running back Miles Sanders admitted the stricter rules present challenges, but he also realizes nothing is more important than keeping everybody safe.
“It’s a little difficult,” he said. “It's a little challenging, especially getting that hands-on teaching in person too. That’s a factor, too, but we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to make this thing work.”
Linebacker Alex Singleton said football is still serving as an emotional escape despite the pandemic. Getting a chance to take the field at practice and on game day has been a positive experience for both the teams and their fans.
“Football is the one time we kind of get to escape from it,” Singleton said. “Even if now that we’re going into — like we were last week — this intensive protocol. I think when we get to actually come together and be on the practice field, it’s … an escape for a lot of us.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that three wide receivers were on the reserve/COVID-19 list. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who tested positive for the virus, is on the list, as are running back Corey Clement and defensive end Vinny Curry.