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Cardinals Hope To Minimize COVID-19 Impact

No positive tests yet as Kingsbury preaches adherence to safety protocols

LB Isaiah Simmons wears a mask during a walkthrough practice last week.
LB Isaiah Simmons wears a mask during a walkthrough practice last week.

The reverberations of COVID-19 hit the Cardinals' roster for the first time on Tuesday when right tackle Marcus Gilbert opted out of the season.

The deadline for most to voluntarily opt out is Thursday, but that certainly won't be the end of the coronavirus impact.

Even though the Cardinals have yet to see a player test positive for COVID-19, coach Kliff Kingsbury believes it's an inevitability.

"At this point I believe it's good fortune," the second-year coach said. "We know we're going to have positive cases at some point. It's just when and not if."

While Kingsbury is pragmatic, he's also big on precautions. As the season moves along, he believes the team's infection rate will correlate to how seriously it follows the safety protocols.

"I feel like the longer we go, the more it's about doing your due diligence and doing what's right, as far as we know, protocol-wise and being where you should be, and trying to avoid situations that you could put yourself at risk," Kingsbury said. "We all have a great appreciation right now around this facility for being able to have a job, for being able to be together and try to pull this thing off. But we also understand it can be taken quickly and I do feel our players understand what their actions will accomplish, and what the wrong actions can tear down. I like where our mindset's at. It's going to take everybody for the entire six, seven months, and I do feel like our team understands that."

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins said the NFL and the Cardinals have done a good job at reducing the risk of spread through measures like daily testing, mask-wearing and hand-washing.

"You see someone going around with sanitizer spray, spraying down everything that we touch," Hopkins said. "Obviously the NFL has done their best to prepare for this. This is something that is hard to prepare for but I think they're doing the best they can, and obviously each organization is doing a good job, especially here."

The biggest test for players will be outside the Dignity Health Training Center, as they aren't in a bubble like the NBA or NHL. The NFL's setup more similarly aligns with Major League Baseball, a sport that has dealt with outbreaks to both the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins after lax adherence to the guidelines.

Kingsbury believes his team must take heed to some of the mistakes made by others.

"If you're not learning from these other sports leagues, then you're missing out," he said.

The Cardinals can hope most of their players mirror the attitude of quarterback Kyler Murray and rookie linebacker Isaiah Simmons, both of whom are self-proclaimed homebodies.

"The whole state is shut down, but even if it wasn't, I'm kind of just a chill, stay-at-home kind of guy," Simmons said. "Especially with this heat. I don't think I want to go outside."

While the 24/7 nature of the threat can be overwhelming, Simmons said it's important that he and his teammates understand the stakes.

"A lot of the guys on the team, they're going home to their wives and children," Simmons said. "It's not just worrying about you. It's worrying about your teammate and people around you. Because you could be impacting more than just you or the guy next to you if you're out being careless…

"It's kind of a lot to think about, the long line of who could be exposed to what, but it's something that's very necessary if we want to have a season this year."

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