Jon Robinson: 'I assume when we come back, we’re probably going to have some guys that test positive'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Jon Robinson has watched what’s unfolded with other sports amid the coronavirus pandemic. He saw Nashville SC’s game in MLS’s return-to-play tournament postponed because of positive COVID-19 tests, and put them on what seems like an inevitable path toward cancellation.

He knows what that means for the Titans.typorama

“I think this whole thing is pretty scary, you never know how it’s going to affect different people,” he said Tuesday night. “You don’t know what it’s going to be like. I assume when we come back, we’re probably going to have some guys that test positive and we’ll have to deal with that, I am sure every team will. Every league is going through that right now.

As for whether anyone working for the Titans has tested positive at this point, he said he could not disclose such information and joked he didn’t want to get arrested by HIPAA.

He’s been working on some of the logistics at team headquarters and awaiting further information for the league about roster size and preseason operations.

I asked him about the idea of isolating a quarterback to assure the Titans would have one in a worse-case scenario, but he broadened the topic.

“I think that's a scary thing for any position group like if you're going into the Week 1 or Week 2 or 3, whatever week it may be, all of a sudden you get 10 guys that test positive, guys that you're counting on that you're going up like you're going to have to pull them from somewhere,” he said. “It’s probably going to be from the practice squad now with the leeway of the practice squad you know, with the new CBA with veterans that you can have on the practice squad. You know, maybe that's an avenue that we that we certainly entertain.”RobinsonPK

Once a player tests positive, how long do the Titans expect to be without him and what will it take for him to be ready to play once he is able to return to team headquarters?

“That's a great question,” Robinson said. “I mean, I think we're probably going to have to wait at least 10 days, two weeks maybe, to make sure that everything's clear. But that's it. We'll certainly have to meet with our doctors and make sure that there's no residual health effects that he's dealing with.

“Again, because the player safety is the most important thing we want to we don't want to put them out there on the field if they're going to have an issue.”

Roster building will be a totally different deal in a COVID-altered football season. The roster is largely built. Sure the Titans could still add Jadeveon Clowney and/or Stephen Gostkowski.

Otherwise, the team is going to rely on the guys they brought in as undrafted rookies for depth, who will be heavily evaluated in practices and in two preseason games if there are two. There will be no real potential to hide a guy in games because the Titans will really need to see him in live-action, Robinson said.

“You're going to rely on those practice views that you have of the guys on your team and you're more apt to stick with those guys, either on the back end of your roster or on your practice squad, then maybe you are going out and coaching somebody else,” he said. “Unless you know there's a rookie from the Jets, or Giants or Browns or whoever that really shows out in the preseason game.

“But we're picking pretty far down the food chain with our claim, you know, to claim that guy, so we're probably not going to get that guy anyway. So to just go get somebody from another team without having worked with him, we would really rely on our college information and our what our college scouts dug up on those guys, if we were going to pull it pull the trigger on that.”

Another pandemic-effect: A weakened bond with fans.

The Titans recently informed fans who bought single-game tickets that they would be refunded and told season ticket holders it’s unlikely Nissan Stadium will be open to full capacity this fall and that the team is working out plans to have them attend “a number” of games.apple icon 144x144 precomposed

Every team is likely to have some sort of limitations, which means a financial hit, a home-field advantage hit and a hit to their connection to their fans.

That last element is a particularly costly one for the Titans in my eyes. They have started to reconnect with their fan base with four consecutive winning seasons and steady management and coaching. Coming off a trip to the AFC Championship game and a season with some thrilling home games they are losing a chance to keep building the base back even as fans of opposing teams continued to infiltrate the building.

“When we first kind of took over in 2016 we were able to win nine games and then we're able to go to playoffs next year,” Robinson said. “And then we make the coaching change and we're back to nine wins and make a run last year and you think that you know the needle is kind of going back and forth and it's starting to kind of tick this way and you want to pay things off. And then COVID hits and you know, we're under a different set of rules.”

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