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Reports: Cole Popovich’s departure from Patriots related to COVID-19 vaccine

Mike Florio talks about why Stephon Gilmore showing up to the New England Patriots' training camp is significant, given that he is still on the PUP list.

News came earlier Friday that Cole Popovich no longer is on the Patriots’ coaching staff. Multiple reports since have confirmed the reason is related to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Mike Giardi of NFL Media noted that Popovich was “masked up during the spring sessions.”

All Tier-1 employees, which includes coaches, are required by the NFL to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to work with players in person during practice. The Vikings said they are in discussion with offensive line coach Rick Dennison over the COVID-19 protocols for training camp after ESPN reported the Vikings had fired Dennison over his refusal to be vaccinated.

Popovich, 36, joined the Patriots in 2015 as a coaching assistant. He and Carmen Bricillo shared offensive line coaching duties last season, but Bricillo will handle the job alone this season.