Patriots assistant Cole Popovich out due to COVID-19 vaccine protocols?

ESPN’s Mike Reiss reports New England Patriots co-offensive line coach Cole Popovich won’t be with the organization for at least the 2021 NFL season because of the league’s protocols regarding COVID-19 vaccinations and unvaccinated personnel. 

According to CBS Boston, Popovich served as the co-offensive line coach alongside Carmen Bricillo for the 2020 season. As a result of Friday’s development, Bricillo becomes New England’s lone o-line coach. 

The NFL previously threatened assistants could be banned from attending meetings, working on practice fields and having direct interactions with players if they refused the available and safe COVID-19 vaccines through the start of training camp without legitimate exemptions for health or religious reasons. Things picked up on Thursday, however, when it was made public that teams could be forced to forfeit if unable to play during a week this season because of a coronavirus outbreak among unvaccinated personnel. 

Earlier on Friday, reports surfaced that Rick Dennison and the Vikings parted ways because the assistant coach did not get vaccinated. Dennison is believed to be the first coach to leave a team over the league’s COVID-19 policies for the upcoming campaign. 

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