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Devon Kennard, Byron Murphy Test Positive For The Coronavirus

Contact tracing shows limited exposure; Team goes into intensive protocols

Linebacker Isaiah Simmons sports a special COVID facemask during Monday's practice.
Linebacker Isaiah Simmons sports a special COVID facemask during Monday's practice.

The Cardinals came back from the bye with two players having tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, coach Kliff Kingsbury confirmed Monday morning.

Later in the day, the team placed two defensive starters -- linebacker Devon Kennard and cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. -- on the Reserve/COVID list.

Kingsbury said contact tracing showed interactions with the those testing positive was limited and that all the team's tests Sunday came back negative, "so we're moving forward with it." While league guidelines put the Cardinals into the NFL intensive protocols, they still practiced Monday afternoon.

"It'll be business as usual," Kingsbury said.

Before it was announced Kennard and Murphy were going on the COVID list, Kennard Tweeted he has tested positive.

"Thankfully, I feel completely normal so far," Kennard wrote. "Please keep my family and I in your prayers as we navigate this. I look forward to being back on the field w/my teammates as soon as I am cleared and it's safe to do so!"

Murphy later did the same.

"As has been reported, I learned today that I have contracted Covid-19. I appreciate all of the support I have received from my loved ones, friends and fans," Murphy wrote. "Please continue to keep my family and I in your prayers during this time. I look forward to making a speedy recovery so I can return to the field to play with my brothers. GO CARDS!"

Because the players were around all last week for testing and working out more, Kingsbury said "I don't see this being a problem moving forward" in terms of the positive tests derailing their post-bye focus. The coach added it was a "fluid" situation but that he was hopeful the negative tests will continue

"I've talked about it since July or training camp, it wasn't a matter of if, it was a matter of when this would occur," Kingsbury said. "The teams that handle it the best, those teams are going to be at the top of this deal.

"As these things pop up, we have to be able to move forward, next man up, all these things we've talked about throughout the season. I think the guys have a good understanding of how we'll handle this, how we'll move forward, and we can't let it affect our mentality or how we approach next week's game."

With Kingsbury carrying that theme from the outset, the message resonated with the players – and prepared them for this situation.

"We knew we were going up against the virus this year as well as playing football teams," tackle Kelvin Beachum said. "We knew at some point this was something we would have to deal with."

Wide receiver KeeSean Johnson had been the only Cardinal so far this season who had landed on the Reserve/COVID list, having been put there just before the regular season. If there are any Cardinals to go on the list in this situation, it would be later Monday.

The Cards are scheduled to host the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at State Farm Stadium.

Defensive tackle Corey Peters said he didn't think the positive tests will mentally impact the Cardinals, although it does reinforce the need to be careful and take proper precautions.

"Honestly I'm surprised we haven't had more positive tests across the league," Peters said.

Peters acknowledged he once expected to see more outbreaks similar to the one the Titans endured, with more than 20 players and staff testing positive. But seeing the daily protocols in place, he has changed his mind and emerged with more optimism.

"At this point," Peters said, "I'm hopeful we (as a league) can have a complete season."

'FORTUNATE' WITH DRAKE; WILLIAMS RETURNS TO PRACTICE

Running back Kenyan Drake, who looked like he suffered a serious ankle injury last week against the Seahawks, did not end up on the Injured Reserve list, which was a promising development. Kingsbury elaborated Monday that Drake is essentially day-to-day, although unlikely to play against the Dolphins.

"I know it looked more severe than it's going to end up being, hopefully," Kingsbury said. "From where we started to where we are now, we're very fortunate." …

Also day-to-day in terms of a return are safety Jalen Thompson and tight end Maxx Williams, each of whom are also battling ankle injuries. Kingsbury said he is "hopeful" for both of them to return this week. Williams officially had his return-from-IR window open Monday when he returned to practice. The Cardinals have three weeks within which to put him back on the roster.

BAYLIS TO PRACTICE SQUAD

The Cardinals also re-signed tight end Evan Baylis to the practice squad Monday.

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