Interim head coach Darrell Bevell, along with defensive coordinator Cory Undlin and a "few other" assistant coaches were absent from Detroit Lions practice Wednesday because of close contact with a COVID-19 positive. Bevell and those coaches are currently isolating, and their availability for Saturday's game against Tampa Bay is uncertain at this point.
The Lions reported two positive COVID-19 tests Tuesday, one player and one staff member. The team announced Wednesday morning there were no new positive tests, which allowed them to conduct practice Wednesday afternoon, but several coaches would remain away from the team facility until further notice.
"I think there's still a lot of information and dialogue going on between the league right now and the team, so we're still working through all that information," Bevell said Wednesday afternoon.
"I know you guys will be concerned about the coaches and what everyone is going to be doing at different times and during the game kind of thing, but right now we're just really focused on today, getting through the end of this day, and making sure we have a good practice today."
Bevell said technology and the ability to stay connected via Zoom has still allowed the coaches to prepare the players for Saturday. Bevell also said there will be enough coaches at practice Wednesday to handle what needs to get done. Bevell attended via Zoom.
He hopes to have an answer about his ability to coach against the Buccaneers by Thursday. It's certainly been a wild few weeks for Bevell. He was thrust into the interim head coach role, had to navigate injuries at the quarterback position with Matthew Stafford's thumb and rib injuries, handle the firing of special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs on Monday, and now this.
"I guess I'm getting a baptism by fire. In a very short time, I'm getting about all the situations I can possibly be put in. It's giving me great experience," Bevell said of going through this as an interim head coach.
Bevell said they have contingency plans in place for who will coach the team and call plays if he isn't able to coach. He said the team would have that information by Thursday, and would let the media know then.
On a personal note, Bevell missed his 20th wedding anniversary this week while isolating, and it's possible the coaches isolating could miss spending Christmas with their families on Friday as well.
The Lions activated defensive end Everson Griffen from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, opening up the possibility of the veteran being able to return Saturday against the Bucs.
Griffen's missed Detroit's last two games while on the list. He was playing well before going on the list, with sacks in consecutive contests against Houston and Chicago.
The Lions could certainly use his help against a Tampa Bay offense ranked seventh in the league in scoring (28.6) and sixth in passing (268.4).
Detroit's 19 sacks on the year are the fifth fewest in the NFL.
BRADY COMES TO TOWN
Six-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Tom Brady, who spent his college days at Michigan, returns to the state Saturday to take on the Lions.
Brady is fresh off leading the Bucs to 31 second-half points last week in Atlanta that erased a 17-point halftime deficit. Brady threw for 390 yards and two touchdowns in the comeback win.
On the year, Brady is completing 65 percent of his passes for 3,886 yards with 32 touchdowns and 11 interceptions for a 97.5 passer rating.
"Obviously he's won the biggest games, and to see the transition to go from the New England Patriots to the Bucs and then have to make that transition, as you said, with new teammates, learning a new offense, I'm sure it was invigorating, but it's a huge challenge," Bevell said of Brady this week.
"When you're in one system for as long as he's been in it, I'm sure the new verbiage and all the wrinkles that he had to learn, and then as well to learn new teammates, he's even doing it a little bit different. He's throwing the ball down the field. People say he can't throw it down the field, I mean, don't put anything past that guy because he's a heck of a player. He's proved us wrong many, many times."
Tampa Bay is tied with Detroit for the sixth most completions of 20-plus yards this season with 50. The Bucs have attempted more passes (71) that travel 20-plus yards in the air than any team in the NFL this season.