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NFL postpones first game amid pandemic

The Tennessee Titans were scheduled to play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in Nashville; now will be played weeks later.
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The Pittsburgh Steelers-Tennessee Titans game set for Nashville early next week has now been pushed back to later this season over coronavirus fears, officials said Thursday.

The game, originally set for Sunday, was postponed with hopes to play it on Monday or Tuesday after several Titans tested positive for the virus, the NFL said Wednesday.

But after learning on Thursday that another player and team employee had tested positive, the league decided to take the Steelers-Titans off the Week 4 schedule. A reschedule date wasn't immediately set.

"The decision to postpone the game was made to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in statement. "The Titans facility will remain closed and the team will continue to have no in-person activities until further notice."

The NFL and its players union revealed on Tuesday that three players and five staffers with the Titans had tested positive for coronavirus, forcing Tennessee and the Minnesota Vikings to call off practice.

Both Tennessee and the Minnesota Vikings, who hosted the Titans this past Sunday in Minneapolis, had suspended all "in-person club activities," according to the joint statement.

The Steelers and Titans are two of the NFL's seven undefeated teams heading into the season's fourth weekend of competition.

With Tennessee's practice facility now closed until further notice, it wasn’t immediately clear when the Titans would be allowed to prepare as a unit for the Steelers game.

In the meantime, Tennessee Coach Mike Vrabel said he hopes his players will study game film and find ways, individually, to stay in physical shape.

“The players will have a break. Some will get treatment, some will hopefully work out, some will eat lunch, some will watch soap operas, I don’t know,” Vrabel told reporters on Wednesday. “But we have to hold each other accountable, I think, to do some sort of physical activity and be ready to go.”

So far during this young NFL season, nearly all games have been played inside empty stadiums.

The Titans are among the few teams with plans to allow a handful of spectators. While its first home game on Sept. 20 against Jacksonville was a closed-door contest, Tennessee had plans to allow about 7,000 people to attend the Steelers game in person.

With this Week 4 game now off the books, the NFL seems to have one viable option to reschedule. Tennessee is off on Sunday, Oct. 25, which is the same day the Steelers are set to play the Baltimore Ravens.

Both the Steelers and Ravens have bye weeks on the following Nov. 1, so the NFL could move this postponed Titans-Steelers game to Oct. 25 and push Pittsburgh-Baltimore to the following weekend.