RICHMOND, Va. — These "story to watch" posts are meant to focus on something like how Sam Cosmi's acclimation to right tackle is progressing, or which tight end is emerging behind Logan Thomas, or what wrinkles Scott Turner is adding to his offense. Unfortunately, this one isn't about any of those things.
On Thursday, Washington placed Curtis Samuel, Matt Ioannidis and reserve defensive back Chris Miller on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Cornelius Lucas is on that list as well. (To be clear, the list is used for those who tested positive or those who were in close contact with someone who did.)
That news comes on the heels of coach Ron Rivera expressing serious disappointment with his team's low vaccination rate, which is reportedly one of, if not the, lowest in the sport. On Tuesday, Rivera used the word "frustrated" on multiple occasions when discussing how the club is lagging behind the rest of the league in that regard.
While there doesn't seem to be any sort of mass outbreak within the franchise — at least not yet — it'll be worth monitoring how three names being added to the list at once affects the mood of the other players. Rivera surely won't be pleased, but perhaps this will serve as a wake-up call to those who aren't already vaccinated? Download and follow the Washington Football Talk podcast
In 2020, Washington handled the pandemic exceedingly well. But just because they didn't have any issues last year doesn't mean they'll be just as untouched this year.
In addition to the clear health risks of the virus, this year, the NFL put added pressure on teams with the rule that organizations that have large breakouts amongst unvaccinated players could be forced to forfeit a game, or games, and the paychecks that come along with those contests, too.
As multiple leaders, including Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chase Young, have said, getting the shot is a personal choice. And for some, that personal choice may never be swayed, no matter what happens.
However, with Washington not even making it through their first stretch of training camp before experiencing COVID issues, maybe the guys who reside more near the middle of the debate will opt to receive the vaccine. This can be something that Rivera points to as evidence that COVID is still very much a problem, and that 2021 won't be as smooth as 2020.
Many, many people share a flaw, and that flaw is not caring or noticing or thinking about something until that something either directly affects them or someone close to them. Well, Washington now has four members of its squad on the reserve/COVID list. It will be interesting to see if that has any sort of real impact on the locker room as a whole.