The Detroit Lions are now on the interim to their interim head coach, as Darrell Bevell will not be able to coach Saturday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers due to COVID-19 protocols, sources told ESPN on Thursday.
Sources said the Lions will move wide receivers coach Robert Prince into the head-coaching role and turn playcalling duties over to quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan, who has never been a playcaller at any level in his career.
Prince, who has never been a head coach, was an offensive coordinator at Fort Lewis College (1994-95), in the Japanese X League (1996-97), at Portland State (1999-2000) and at Boise State (2012-13). He was the passing game coordinator at Colorado in 2010.
He has been with the Lions since 2014, brought in by former coach Jim Caldwell.
The Lions still have major problems to sort out defensively, where coordinator Cory Undlin and all three primary position coaches — defensive line coach Bo Davis, linebackers coach Ty McKenzie and defensive backs coach Steve Gregory — were held away from the facility Wednesday as close contacts due to COVID-19.
“Obviously this was something that we had to plan for,” Bevell said Wednesday. “So there are contingency plans, and each and every time something happens, we’re making adjustments to that. I still think we’re gathering more information.”
On Monday, practice squad linebacker Anthony Pittman and a coach both tested positive for COVID-19. The NFL and the Lions then went into their close contact tracing procedures and wiped out most of the defensive staff.
Bevell said Wednesday that he believed some of this occurred due to travel to the team’s last game at Tennessee — Nashville has one of the highest new-case rates of COVID-19 in the country — but he is otherwise unsure how his player and coach contracted the virus.
On Wednesday, Bevell would not “confirm or deny” a report from the Detroit Free Press that one defensive assistant was not wearing his contact tracing tracker at all times and another held a meeting inside his office.
“We’re not going to get into specifics of all this thing. It does go back to contact tracing,” Bevell said. “When you end up having a positive test, probably what happened to us is it was probably the perfect storm in terms of when you have an away game and you have somebody test positive on Monday, they go back 48 hours.
“In a travel situation, you have the plane, you have the hotel, you have the buses, you have the smaller locker rooms in away places. So there’s a lot of things to sift through and a lot of information on that. We’re still working through all that.”
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