Maryland football is back — in practice, at least.
After a coronavirus outbreak within the program led to the cancelation of two games, the Terrapins returned to practice Monday, the team announced, beginning their regular game-week preparations ahead of playing Indiana on Saturday.
Since Nov. 19, only one daily antigen test came back positive — and the confirmatory PCR test was negative. On Sunday, all football players underwent PCR testing, and none came back positive.
Coach Mike Locksley was among those who had tested positive last week, bringing the two-week total for players and staff to 30 positive cases. On a Thursday Zoom call, Locksley said he was experiencing minor symptoms. In Monday’s release, athletic director Damon Evans said Locksley is “feeling good.”
Evans said Locksley would virtually take part in practice this week but planned to travel with the team to Indiana on Friday and coach Maryland against the No. 12 Hoosiers.
“The last two weeks have been trying for everyone associated with our football program, but I am proud of the resiliency and positive outlook Coach Locksley and our team has had,” Evans said in a release. “The team went through weight training this morning and will practice this afternoon. We are optimistic that we will be able to play this Saturday at Indiana. As we have done throughout, we will continue daily testing, monitor those results and base all decisions upon those results.”
Maryland hadn’t practiced since Nov. 10, the day before the program announced its game against Ohio State was canceled following eight players testing positive for the coronavirus over a seven-day period. The team moved into a hotel, hoping to slow down the transmission of the virus, and departed Nov. 15 as planned.
At that point, Dr. Yvette Rooks, the assistant director of the University Health Center, said the number of cases was dropping. But early last week, another uptick of cases prompted practices to be canceled and Saturday’s matchup with Michigan State to be nixed.
The Terrapins announced Thursday an additional 15 positive cases for players and seven for coaches, bringing the two-week total to 30 individuals within the football program. But when Rooks met with reporters Thursday, she indicated a return was possible but didn’t give an exact timeframe.
“Things are moving in a good direction,” Rooks said. “I have confidence that we’re going to get back on the field. As we all know, this is a day-to-day operation when dealing with covid. Covid is very tricky and very slippery.”
It remains to be seen how many players will be missing for Saturday’s game, which is scheduled for noon in Bloomington, Indiana. According to Big Ten protocols, the earliest a player can return to playing games is 21 days after the positive coronavirus test.
The initial announcement of eight players testing positive came Nov. 11, including testing data from between Sept. 30 and Nov. 10. Depending on the exact date those players tested positive, that group may be available against the Hoosiers.
The second group of players may not be eligible to return, though. Those 15 players tested positive between Nov. 12 to Nov. 19, meaning the earliest they can play is Dec. 3. Coaches, meanwhile, must isolate for 10 days after a positive test, allowing Locksley to return in time to be on the sideline against Indiana this Saturday.
“As we found, every week, we’ve got two opponents: covid and whoever we’re preparing to play for,” Locksley said Thursday. “We’re continuing to just try to fight this thing and move forward as best we can.”
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