Saints helmet

A New Orleans Saints helmet during an NFL football training camp practice at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center in Metairie, La., Friday, August 21, 2020. (Photo by David Grunfeld, The New Orleans Advocate)

FORT WORTH, Texas — Multiple New Orleans Saints offensive assistant coaches have tested positive for COVID-19, sources told the Times-Picayune, which places the team in intensive protocols ahead of Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers.

The elevated protocols mean that all players and staffers must now be masked and undergo daily testing, regardless of vaccination status. Meetings with coaches who tested positive will now be over Zoom.

Under normal protocols, vaccinated players and staff members are tested once a week while unvaccinated players are tested daily.

All of the Saints assistant coaches have been vaccinated, in accordance with NFL protocols, so those who tested positive could be back in the fold for Sunday's game in Charlotte. The majority of the Saints' players are vaccinated, but there are a few who remain unvaccinated.

It is unknown at this time if anyone who tested positive has any symptoms.

The Saints remain in the Dallas/Fort Worth area due to Hurricane Ida. The team, along with many family members, evacuated to Texas ahead of the storm in late August. They will continue to practice at TCU this week ahead of Sunday's game.

This isn't the first run-in the Saints have had with COVID-19.

The Saints were docked a 2022 sixth-round draft pick and were fined more than $850,000 due to violations of COVID-19 protocol in 2021.

Additionally, all of their running backs and running backs coach Joel Thomas, were placed on the COVID-19 list after being declared close contacts with Alvin Kamara last season ahead of the regular season finale against the Panthers.

Several other players either tested positive or landed on the COVID-19 list due to close contact last year, but those were believed to be isolated incidents.

Only one Saints player has been on the COVID-19 list so far this year: cornerback KeiVarae Russell. Russell missed a substantial chunk of training camp due to his time on the list. He's currently on the Saints' practice squad.

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