Titans fined $350K for COVID-19 violations; Raiders could be next

The Tennessee Titans were fined $350,000 for COVID-19 protocol violations -- the result of a review by the NFL and NFL Players Association, which now have turned their attention to lapses surrounding multiple positive COVID cases with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Sources say the Titans were fined for instances of failure to comply with requirements on wearing masks and insufficient clear communication regarding workouts outside the facility. No individual -- including Tennessee general manager Jon Robinson and head coach Mike Vrabel -- will face discipline. And despite 24 positive COVID cases that contributed to multiple disruptions to the league schedule, the Titans avoided more severe punishments the league has threatened in calls and memos to clubs, such as forfeitures or lost draft picks. The team has been told there will be escalated discipline with further instances of COVID-19 protocol violations.

The Titans fully cooperated in the review, providing documents and video and helping facilitate interviews, per sources. The review also found the club dedicated significant time and resources to get into compliance with COVID-19 protocols in the offseason and since has made additional changes to the facility. The league sent the team the findings Monday.

The same day, the Raiders placed rookie cornerback Damon Arnette on the reserve/COVID-19 list after a positive test over the weekend. Then, on Wednesday morning, the Raiders learned right tackle Trent Brown had also tested positive, setting up a contact-tracing expedition that led to the other four starting offensive linemen being held out of practice all week and safety Johnathan Abram being ruled out for today's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Raiders now are in line for potential discipline after the NFL and NFLPA found that Brown had not been consistently wearing his Kinexon contact-tracing device and he and the other starting offensive linemen had been congregating without face coverings during practice, even though those are required because the team is in the league's supplemental intensive protocols.

If the Raiders are penalized, theirs could be stiffer than most because of their previous history. The Raiders organization has been fined $250,000 for head coach Jon Gruden not wearing a mask on the sideline and, $50,000 for an unauthorized person in their postgame locker room, while several players were fined for not wearing masks at an indoor charity event.

Center Rodney Hudson, guards Gabe Jackson and Denzelle Good and left tackle Kolton Miller were activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday and will be allowed to play against the Bucs. Their last exposure to Brown was on Monday, making Sunday the sixth day and allowing them to clear protocols. According to a source, Abram went shoe-shopping with Brown on Tuesday -- a quick visit to a store that was closed to the public, but still enough for the NFL's medical experts to deem him a close contact and rule him out.

These are the key questions as the NFL/NFLPA probes the Raiders: Were the issues something a coach or executive could have controlled? If people were not wearing masks on the field, who could have corrected the behavior? And were there more protocol violations that weren't previously known? All the key people -- including players involved -- are being interviewed for specifics.

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