- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 1, 2021

Another day, another player sidelined because of the virus.

The Washington Football Team placed defensive tackle Daron Payne on the COVID-19 reserve list Sunday — its seventh player to be put in the league’s protocols. Payne’s addition to the list follows Saturday’s addition of guard Brandon Scherff and tackle David Sharpe.

Wide receiver Curtis Samuel, defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis, cornerback Chris Miller and tackle Cornelius Lucas are also on the reserve list. 

The COVID-19 reserve list does not necessarily mean a player has the virus as anyone unvaccinated deemed a close contact can also be forced to miss time. 

Coach Ron Rivera has urged his team to get vaccinated, telling reporters that he hoped players would take advantage of an off day Sunday to get the vaccine. Washington’s vaccination rate hovers around 70%, making the Burgundy-and-Gold one of the league’s least vaccinated teams. Only one team is below 70%, while 22 teams have at least 90% of players who have received at least one dose.

Rivera said last week that he considered it tougher this year to have players strictly follow protocols aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. 

Washington’s seven additions to the reserve list over the last six days are already more than the team had all of last year. In 2020, the team only placed three players land on the list and no player was forced to miss a regular season game. 

“It’s harder than last year because it’s open,” Rivers said. “I mean we’re moving around as a community freely now to a degree and because of that, you come into contact with more people and unfortunately come into contact with more people that haven’t been vaccinated. So, you’d have to be extra careful.” 

Rivera warned his team Sunday that if the positive tests had been just prior to the team’s season opener on Sept. 12, the players forced to quarantine would likely miss the following week as well because Washington begins the season with a short turnaround. The team plays the New York Giants in Week 2 on “Thursday Night Football.”

Unvaccinated players who test positive for the coronavirus must miss at least 10 days due to league protocols. Unvaccinated players who are considered close contacts on the reserve must miss at least five days and continue to not test positive before being cleared to return. 

Of Washington’s seven players on the reserve list, four are considered likely starters.

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