ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – Just like pretty much everything in 2020, the Bills bye week is unique this year.
Usually it’s a time for players to recharge and hit the reset button with a week off and a lot of times that means leaving Western New York. But this year they can’t leave the area because they have to continue getting tested for COVID-19 every day.
And even though players won’t be traveling during the break, head coach Sean McDermott wanted to get his message across about being responsible and staying safe.
“It is unique and from some of the research we’ve done there’s quite a few teams that have picked up COVID on the bye week because naturally there’s less structured time, less time in the building and more time outside the building,” McDermott said on Monday.
“I think just awareness to that. Now we’re basically going out into society again and we’ve gotta be very mindful of that and accountable to the people in our building and to our season at this point.”
Making the right choices outside of the Bills facility is critical because you never know which players or even staff members it will affect and therefore, impact who is available on game day.
The Bills have already gone through two players testing positive for COVID-19 this season. Tight end Dawson Knox had coronavirus before the Jets road game earlier this season and this past weekend, cornerback Josh Norman tested positive.
In both cases, multiple players were also placed on the NFL’s Reserve/COVID-19 list and could not play because through contact tracing, it was determined they came in close contact with either Knox or Norman. Right now, in addition to Norman, the Bills have cornerback Levi Wallace, safety Dean Marlowe and tight end Tyler Kroft on the COVID-19 list.
“If this past weekend wasn’t evidence enough of what can happen, I mean we’re an hour away from getting on the plane and we get four guys picked off of our team that can’t make the trip just like that. That impacts a lot of areas in terms of guys that are playing positions that haven’t necessarily played or practiced those positions,” McDermott said.
“I think that’s the latest reminder if how it affects us here and then in the society that they’re going back out into, I think they’re fairly aware because of social media and how readily available the information is that cases are on the climb and they’re increasing and it’s increasing it seems like. We’ve gotta be responsible parts of our community and do a good job to stop the spread.”