KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs’ star defensive tackle Chris Jones has been placed on the COVID-19 reserve list, reports say.
ESPN’s Field Yates reported the news Thursday afternoon, just hours after the team announced a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19. That employee is quarantining.
There’s no confirmation from the Chiefs so far, but players can be placed on the list if they are simply exposed to someone with a positive test. It does not mean the player has tested positive.
If Jones is asymptomatic and tests negative, under the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol, he must continue to test negative for five days before he can return to the team. That means he will miss Sunday’s game against the Panthers.
Jones has already missed one game this season, against the New England Patriots, due to a hamstring injury.
Although the Chiefs haven’t publicly identified the staffer who tested positive, NFL Network reporters Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo said it was Rick Burkholder, the Chiefs’ vice president of sports medicine and performance.
The Chiefs held practice Thursday morning, but the team closed the facility on Thursday afternoon, holding virtual meetings as they continue to prepare to play the Carolina Panthers at noon Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
Burkholder is held in high regard not only within the Chiefs organization, but across the league. As the NFL navigates playing through the pandemic, he’s been tasked as Kansas City’s Infection Control Officer. Here’s an excerpt from his biography:
With the coronavirus pandemic forcing the adoption of new COVID-19 protocols across the National Football League, Burkholder has become the team’s Infection Control Officer (ICO), a leading member of the club’s Infection Response Team (IRT). As the local ICO, Burkholder was integral in the development of the club’s IDER (infectious disease emergency response) plan, a document detailing how the club was adapting its operations to mitigate risk, the types of cleaning products and equipment being used, how the team is complying with state and local guidelines, as well as how team officials would handle a positive COVID-19 test or symptoms within the staff or locker room, among other topics. The plan, which is implemented on a daily basis under Burkholder’s watch, was the first among all clubs to be reviewed and approved by the NFL, the NFLPA and jointly appointed infectious disease experts.
This is the fourth time this season that COVID has impacted the Chiefs to some degree. Before Kansas City’s Week 4 game against the New England Patriots, the game was moved when New England quarterback Cam Newton tested positive, as well as Chiefs practice squad QB Jordan Ta’amu. The Chiefs beat the Patriots 26-10 on an impromptu edition of Monday Night Football.
A couple weeks later, a scheduled Thursday night game against the Buffalo Bills moved to the following Monday after an outbreak among the Tennessee Titans, who the Bills had just played. The Chiefs eventually prevailed 26-17.
Before the Chiefs played the Bills, they lost Anthony Sherman to the reserve/COVID-19 list.
FOX4 will continue to follow developments with this story, but as of Thursday afternoon, the game is still set for noon on Sunday, and airs on FOX4.