FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots captain Matthew Slater said late Monday night he was praying there wouldn’t be additional positive tests for the coronavirus but fully understood the reality of the situation.
That reality has hit the Patriots hard after reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore tested positive on Tuesday, a result that was confirmed Wednesday.
While the Patriots attempt to shift their attention to Sunday’s scheduled home game against the Denver Broncos (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS), the diagnosis shines a spotlight on the human side of the game. Gilmore became the third Patriots player to be placed on the COVID-19/reserve list — joining quarterback Cam Newton and practice squad defensive lineman Bill Murray — a situation that naturally concerns his teammates. The Patriots had no new positive tests from Wednesday’s results that came back late Wednesday, a source confirms to ESPN.
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After pushing through to play Monday’s game at Kansas City, Slater said, “I think a lot of us just wanted to make sure we were healthy and not passing anything along to our families. That was the primary concern for a lot of guys.”
Gilmore is married, and he and wife, Gabby, have two children, Sebastian and Gisele.
Meanwhile, others in the organization, such as offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, are managing different health considerations.
“I have asthma. I think we’re all sensitive to the potential effects that the virus could have on you. We’re trying to do everything in our power to protect ourselves and one another,” McDaniels said. “I’ll trust the medical people in terms of what they’re telling us and me, relative to coming back into a meeting room or closer contact with somebody who has had it before.
“They’ve really done a good job communicating what they expect from us, and it’s our job to uphold our end of the bargain. There’s nothing more important than the health and safety of the people in the building.”
As for whether the Patriots should have played Monday’s game, when they took two planes to Kansas City, coach Bill Belichick said this week on sports radio WEEI: “I think there’s a lot of questions, a lot of uncertainty on a number of levels, and it’s hard to know what the answers are. This is really on the medical area, and that’s not my area, so I’ll leave that to the medical people.”
Safety Devin McCourty, a longtime captain, took a wide view of the way the Patriots proceeded after Newton’s positive test.
“It gave me great perspective what everyone in our country was going through. I think about people that don’t have the resources that we have. As nerve-wracking as everything is going on, I think we had a sense of security that a lot of people don’t have,” McCourty said.
“Obviously, it wasn’t perfect, but I think we had a lot more peace of mind than people did just leaving their houses or buildings and walking in hallways or streets. … You’re worried and you’re anxious with all those thoughts of what COVID-19 brings, but we had a lot at our disposal to kind of get through everything.”
Slater, one of the Patriots’ player representatives, acknowledged the support he feels from the players’ union.
“I have to say the union is doing the best they can handling this situation. It’s not an easy one. The whole country is dealing with it,” Slater said Monday night. “We’re trying to play football in the middle of a pandemic.”