Coach Anthony Lynn canceled practice Thursday after the Chargers learned a player had tested positive for COVID-19.
A short time later, offensive lineman Ryan Groy was placed on the reserve COVID-19 list.
The team instead met virtually, Lynn explaining that the players who did show up at the facility in Costa Mesa were sent home for the protection of everyone.
“I don’t want to take any chances here,” he said. “I don’t want anyone else getting infected, potentially. At the same time, it gives them some peace of mind.”
Groy has started the last three games at right guard in the absence of Trai Turner, who is out with a groin problem. A veteran in his seventh year, Groy, 30, has spent the last two seasons with the Chargers.
He hurt his biceps Sunday in a 39-29 victory over Jacksonville and also was placed on the injured reserve list Thursday. Groy will miss at least the next three games. Veteran backup Scott Quessenberry filled in at right guard against the Jaguars after Groy went out.
The Chargers players went through their usual daily testing Thursday morning, with those results expected to be known late Thursday night. At that point, the team should have a better understanding whether it’s dealing with an individual case or something larger.
“We’ve done a really good job with the contact tracing,” Lynn said. “Players take this very seriously. As of right now, we feel like we have it contained.”
Following NFL protocols, contact tracing was initiated after the positive test was discovered around midnight Wednesday.
Any individuals who are deemed to be “high-risk” contacts would be required to isolate for five days, meaning a team could suffer multiple losses at one position group, in this case the offensive line.
When he met with reporters shortly after noon Thursday, Lynn said he did not know if any other Charger had been ruled to be high-risk, one of the developments that could affect the team’s next scheduled game at Denver.
“Hopefully, we can play the game on Sunday and things can go as normal,” Lynn said. “If not, we’ll make that adjustment.”
On the Chargers’ injury report Thursday, starting left guard Forrest Lamp, right tackle Trey Pipkins and backup quarterback Easton Stick were all listed as not practicing because of noninjury reasons.
That designation likely indicates those players had been in close contact with Groy. Pipkins began the season as a reserve but has started the last three games at right tackle in place of Bryan Bulaga, who has a back injury.
Since the Chargers canceled practice Thursday, the participation level of each player on the league-mandated injury report was an estimation.
The loss of multiple offensive linemen would be a major blow as the Chargers prepare to play a Broncos team that features pass rushers such as Bradley Chubb and Malik Reed.
“Potentially, you could be in that situation,” Lynn said of having one position group decimated. “I’m not sure how that’s going to go because the NFL is looking at that right now. … Hopefully, we’ve done what we’re supposed to do and we’re OK.”
This is the Chargers’ first known positive COVID-19 test since the start of training camp. Lynn revealed in August that he had contracted the virus in the offseason.
Even with their previously clean record, the Chargers were impacted significantly this month when their schedule had to be reworked to accommodate games being postponed around the league.
As part of that shuffling, their week off was moved from mid-November to Week 6. Since the Chargers already have been off, rescheduling the game Sunday against Denver would be problematic.
As it is, Lynn said the plan is to condense the missed practice time into Friday and, if necessary, Saturday, which is typically just a light walk-through.
“It disrupts our routine,” he said. “This year has been that way. This is not the first time our routine has been interrupted. So I’m sure these guys will respond and bounce back just fine.”
The Chargers also placed tight end Virgil Green (ankle) on injured reserve Thursday. He was hurt scoring a touchdown against Jacksonville. In his place, Donald Parham Jr. and Stephen Anderson are expected to receive more playing time.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.