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AP photo by Charlie Riedel / Tennessee Titans offensive linemann Dennis Kelly (71) celebrates his touchdown catch with quarterback Ryan Tannehill during the first half of the AFC championship game against the host Kansas City Chiefs on Jan. 19.

Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Dennis Kelly has been hunkered down with his family in the Indianapolis area since the birth of his third daughter a month ago.

That means they were practicing isolation even before the World Health Organization's March 11 declaration that the outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is a pandemic.

"We're already kind of in a self-imposed quarantine on our own, because with a new baby and not having shots and everything like that, especially with it being winter and how bad the flu was this year," said Kelly, one of hundreds of NFL players who are self-isolating while the league sorts through what's next.

"We're in week four already of kind of being separated. For most of society, obviously it's even more extreme."

Though it's the offseason for the NFL, the need for social distancing and self-isolation by the pro football community was driven home this past Thursday when New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton became the league's first figure to make public a confirmed positive test for the coronavirus.

NFL players usually use this time to prepare for offseason programs that traditionally start in April. With those programs delayed indefinitely, they're trying to stay connected with teammates via group chats and social media. Workouts also are an obstacle with more gyms closing, though some players have their own equipment at home.

Saints long snapper Zach Wood, who signed an extension just before free agency started, lives in an apartment and has been staying away from gyms in Dallas. His workouts involve pushups, pullups and squats — and now more running outside.

"I'm just like a sprinkler throwing sweat everywhere, which is disgusting," Wood said, "so I guess I better start going outside and finding ways to do something in the park or on a trail or something, because the apartment is just not having it for me."

Titans center Ben Jones has been working out at home, too. In video shared on social media Friday by the team, he could be seen throwing a medicine ball at the wall beside his garage and lifting weights outdoors.

Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who recently received a four-year, $118 million contract extension, normally would be busy lining up workouts with wide receivers to start honing their chemistry and timing.

"Guys getting on planes right now is not a good situation," said Tannehill, who is also doing some personal training while sticking around the house with his two children and enjoying more home cooking by his wife, Lauren. " Hopefully as a nation we can kind of get this thing turned around, flatten the curve so to speak, and start moving forward."

The NFL started its new business year this past Wednesday, and free agency has been one of the few things close to normal in the sports world in the wake of the pandemic, but the group chats Kelly and Tannehill use to stay in touch aren't easy for a player with new teammates.

Buffalo Bills safety Jordan Poyer, who just signed a two-year extension with the team, said one key is staying educated about what's been affected by the pandemic. He's in Florida, and since his training facility closed down he has been doing outdoor workouts on a field with his brother.

"It is kind of weird times," Poyer said. " We stocked up probably about a week ago. But you go to the grocery store, and you can't find water. You can't find cleaning stuff. It's crazy."

Finding specific items at the grocery store is the biggest challenge for Kelly. His oldest daughter Eden is allergic to eggs, peanuts and tree nuts, which limits what she can eat and drink.

"With all these people that are in a sense panic shopping and getting all these supplies — you hear the jokes about the toilet paper going out — we have one brand of milk that she drinks because we know it's safe," Kelly said. "If that is kind of taken out, that kind of leaves us in a predicament in that regard. That's just kind of where we're at right now. Scary situation for us, personally, with her."

A situation that changes daily.

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AP photo by Elise Amendola / New England Patriots defensive end Keionta Davis, a former UTC and Red Bank standout, walks the sideline during the first half of a preseason game against the Carolina Panthers on Aug. 22, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass.

Pats keep former Moc

Keionta Davis, the Southern Conference defensive player of the year his senior football season at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, re-signed with the New England Patriots this past week, according to a UTC release.

The 6-foot-4, 280-pound former Red Bank High School standout, whose 31 sacks at UTC rank second in program history, first signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2017 after being voted a Football Championship Subdivision All-American twice while with the Mocs.

Injuries have limited the 26-year-old defensive lineman to just six games in his NFL career, with Davis spending last season on injured reserve, but he started three of those games, all of them in the 2018 season that ended with the Patriots winning their record-tying sixth Super Bowl title.

 

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