Bruce Arians worries about vaccinated players testing positive, strict protocols

Bucs DT Ndamukong Suh, PK Ryan Succop are vaccinated but on the reserve COVID-19 list with mild symptoms.
Bucs coach Bruce Arians looks on from the sideline during Saturday night's preseason game against the Texans in Houston.
Bucs coach Bruce Arians looks on from the sideline during Saturday night's preseason game against the Texans in Houston. [ MATT PATTERSON | Associated Press ]
Published Aug. 29, 2021|Updated Aug. 29, 2021

TAMPA — Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and kicker Ryan Succop missed the Bucs’ preseason finale in Houston on Saturday after being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Neither player has severe symptoms. And with the surging Delta variant so easily transmitted, coach Bruce Arians worries the protocol of having players potentially miss games with little or no symptoms is too strict.

“The virus issue is concerning because everybody has very, very mild symptoms,” Arians said Sunday. “Things that you wouldn’t miss a day of work with in your life. But now you’re out 10 days. So that’s got me concerned, that it can be transmitted that easily. But I might sneeze and I test positive. That’s the biggest concern for me right now.”

Arians is confident both Suh an Succop will return in time to begin preparations for the season opener against Dallas on Sept. 9 at Raymond James Stadium. Players first must have four consecutive days off following the end of the preseason.

“Ten days is still the maximum,” Arians said for players testing positive. “We’ll have everybody back, but now these four days off and re-testing now with the new protocol, who knows? ...

“Our guys are very, very aware of the situation and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to make sure it doesn’t affect our team.”

Arians said he’s not a fan of the latest proposal to increase testing of vaccinated players from 14 to every seven days.

“I don’t think it will help at all,” he said. “I was fine with the other protocols. If your team is 100 percent vaccinated, I don’t know why you have to test at all.”

The Titans, due to so many players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, are enacting a mandatory mask mandate inside their facility as a precaution. Tennessee’s outbreak came after a pair of joint practices and a preseason game with the Bucs in Tampa.

Arians said he’s not ready for a mask measure just yet.

“It’s something we’ll talk about as a team,” Arians said. “We’re definitely going back to last year’s meetings where we’re all spread out because our facility is so good we can do that. That’s the biggest thing. As far as masks, until I’m ready to wear one, I won’t require anybody else to wear one.”

Cappa retains starting job

Bucs right guard Alex Cappa did enough in Saturday’s win at Houston to hold off Aaron Stinnie and retain his starting job.

“Cappa probably graded out the highest on the offensive line,” Arians said. “He had a good ballgame, so that’s pretty solidified. Aaron is much better on the right side than he is the left. He’s got a bunch of left-side snaps. He did get better that way. We’re very confident in both those things.”

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Whitehead may return for opener

Bucs safety Jordan Whitehead has missed three weeks with an undisclosed injury but Arians says he may be ready for the Cowboys’ game. “Very hopeful,” Arians said. “We’re seeing good progress and we’ve got our fingers crossed he will make it.”

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