Brandon Beane, Bills general manager, was horrified Tuesday when Cole Beasley, receiver was one of four players who were unable to play for at least five consecutive days due to close contact with a trainer who had tested positive for COVID-19.
The NFL placed receiver Gabriel Davis, and Vernon Butler, defensive tackle, in its five-day reentry period. Beane stated that all four players tested negative. However, Beane indicated that the trainer is suffering mild symptoms.
The start of the five-day return depends on the time each player last spoke with the trainer. However, all four Bills players will be absent Saturday’s final preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.
Beasley, Davis and Lotulelei are expected to be among Buffalo’s top four receivers. Lotulelei will be back in the Bills’ starting job as their top run-stuffer following his COVID-19 withdrawal. Butler played in 11 Buffalo games last season, and is now competing for Lotulelei’s primary backup job.
Beane acknowledged that he was relieved that this happened in the preseason but said that it is a reminder about how quickly team preparations can get thrown off track.
“This is our new norm. Beane stated that it isn’t the normal we want, but it’s the reality we live in. It’s been so long, you can expect the unexpected. It’s not a problem. It’s not under our control. We just need to accept the cards we are dealt.”
Beane noticed a first sign of concern in the morning, when the trainer, who Beane didn’t identify, tested positive to COVID-19 after complaining that he was not feeling well.
Beasley, Davis, and Lotulelei were just a few of the players who were sent home prior to practice. Butler was sent home after practice after it became clear that he had been in touch with his trainer.
Additional linebackers, A.J. Klein and Matt Milano, were also sent home. Klein were returned home by the NFL for precautionary reasons. However, they have been cleared by the NFL and will resume practice on Wednesday.
League rules stipulate that only unvaccinated players will be subject to the five day reentry period. Players who are not fully vaccinated are required to have their blood tested every 14 days.
Just like that, the controversial topic of vaccinations, which clouded much Bills offseason, has returned less than 3 weeks before the defending AFC East champions open regular season hosting Steelers on September 12.
When quarterback Josh Allen made the personal decision to get vaccinated, it was April that Buffalo became the center of attention.
The NFL informed the league a month later that they could not release players because they were not vaccinated. The league’s message came in response to Beane hypothetically suggesting he would consider doing so if it would provide more freedom within the team facilities for meetings and offseason programs.
Beasley has been a vocal critic of vaccinations and the league’s COVID-19 policies. He threatened to quit after the NFL announced new rules regarding vaccinated and non-vaccinated players.
He opened training camp by reading from a statement in which he repeatedly referred to a lack of transparency and information on vaccinations. Beasley’s remarks contradict those of Bills coach Sean McDermott who said that the team has done all it can to educate its players.
Beasley also questions why players who have been vaccinated are not tested daily. He released a rap song where he claims that there is no vaccination for him.
The effects of COVID-19 hit home last month, when starting left tackle Dion Dawkins spent four days in the hospital questioning whether he would survive after contracting the coronavirus while he was partially vaccinated.
Beane stated that the Bills’ vaccination rate is approximately 80%. This number was the same as when training camp opened last week.
Beane stated, “It’s our world and I’m going to not let it get us down.” Beane was asked if he believed that players could have been prevented from entering the reentry protocol by being vaccinated. It’s how it is. We’ll deal now with it, and we’ll continue dealing with it as we move ahead here.
Two spots were filled by the Bills, who claimed Joey Ivie (defensive tackle) and Rico Gafford (receiver) off waivers.
The Indianapolis Colts released Ivie. They split the 2019 season with eight games between Kansas City and Tennessee. Gafford was released from the Arizona Cardinals. He had appeared in eight games for the Raiders the previous three seasons.
Five players were also released by the Bills, including Tyrell Adams, a linebacker who was an offseason free agent addition. Adams had spent the past three years with Houston Texans. Recipient Lance Lenoir and tight end Bug Howard were also released, as well as safety Tariq Thompson, offensive lineman Tyler Gauthier, and tight end Bug Thompson.