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AP photo by Charlie Riedel / New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick's team is among those that have had to deal with schedule changes this season as a result of COVID-19.

Updated with more information at 8:45 p.m. on Oct. 16, 2020.

From New England to Indianapolis to Atlanta, the focus Friday was not on football when it came to NFL news. It was on, not surprisingly, coronavirus tests.

The Patriots canceled practice and later placed center James Ferentz on the COVID-19 reserve list. He became the fifth player on the team to test positive for the virus.

The Colts had four positive tests that, when retested, came up negative. Their practice facility was closed, then reopened as a result of those developments.

The Falcons returned to their facility one day after leaving it Thursday when they had a second positive.

New England (2-2) already twice had its original Week 5 matchup against the visiting Denver Broncos (1-3) postponed after four positive coronavirus tests by players, including starting quarterback Cam Newton and star cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The game is scheduled for Sunday but could be in jeopardy.

"I don't really know the answer to that," Broncos coach Vic Fangio said when asked about finally playing the Patriots. "We're under the assumption and understanding that this game's going to go off on time. And anything that happens otherwise will happen when it happens."

Newton and Gilmore returned to practice this week for the first time since testing positive for the coronavirus. Newton missed New England's road loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 5, three days after his positive test, and was activated from the COVID-19 reserve list Wednesday. Gilmore, who tested positive Oct. 7, was activated from the list Thursday, the same day practice squad player Bill Murray also returned. Defensive tackle Byron Cowart, who tested positive on Oct. 11, was joined on the list by Ferentz.

The Broncos haven't played since Oct. 1. So if they play Sunday, they will have had 16 days between games, one more than the Tennessee Titans' layoff before beating the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday night after the NFL's first COVID-19 outbreak. That outbreak for the Titans affected two dozen members of the organization, but they are 4-0 as they prepare to host the Houston Texans (1-4) on Sunday.

In Indianapolis, Colts coach Frank Reich did not identify who had the false positives but acknowledged if it wasn't a player, it was someone who worked closely with the players. He did say the four were kept out of the facility.

The Browns, who played the Colts last weekend, had zero positive tests Friday morning and their building was open. The negatives included one for star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who was ill and sent home Thursday and not allowed to practice Friday.

Atlanta resumed in-person work ahead of Sunday's road game against the Minnesota Vikings (1-4), doing so under more stringent safety measures. The Falcons (0-5) are preparing for their first game under interim head coach Raheem Morris. Dan Quinn was fired this past Sunday night after a loss to the Carolina Panthers earlier in the day.

"Just with the intensive regulations, the mask protocol is in high effect," Morris said. "We have to do some of those different type of deals. Masks on the field, player separation on the field. The in-person meetings only in two areas: The team meeting room and the indoor facility. All of those things we had to implement.

"Everything dealing with the disease and the COVID and what we've got to deal with, I will follow to the highest and protect the team at all costs, even if it means shutting down a practice like yesterday."

Atlanta rookie defensive tackle Marlon Davidson was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list Tuesday. The second person in the organization who tested positive this week is not a player.

Panthers offensive lineman Tyler Larsen was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list Friday, five days after the game in Atlanta.

 

Jones practices

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones returned to practice as a limited participant and hopes to be ready Sunday.

The seven-time Pro Bowl pick has played just one half of the past three games because of a hamstring injury, and Friday marked the first day he was able to get on the field in two weeks. Jones has 15 catches for 213 yards and no touchdowns this season.

Other players listed as limited participants included receiver Russell Gage (shoulder), tight end Hayden Hurst (back), defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (ankle), defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (back), safety Keanu Neal (hamstring) and linebacker Foye Oluokun (knee).

Defensive end Takk McKinley (groin) and safety Jaylinn Hawkins (concussion) have been ruled out, while efensive end John Cominsky (illness, not COVID-19-related) did not participate Friday and was listed as questionable.

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