Patriots co-OL coach Cole Popovich no longer on staff due to COVID-19 requirements

New England Patriots co-offensive line coach Cole Popovich is no longer on the Patriots coaching staff for reasons related to the league's COVID-19 requirements, NFL Network's Mike Giardi reported Friday, per informed sources.

Giardi noted that Popovich, 36, was "masked up (at times) during the spring sessions."

Popovich has been with the organization since 2015.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings issued a statement Friday regarding offensive line coach Rick Dennison's status with the club.

"The Vikings continue to hold discussions with Offensive Line Coach Rick Dennison regarding the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 Protocols for training camp and preseason games," the statement read. "At this time, Coach Dennison does not have an exemption to the vaccination requirements of those protocols. We will adhere to the requirements of the protocols and of applicable law."

ESPN reported earlier Friday that the longtime assistant was "out" in Minnesota.

Dennison, 63, was hired by Minnesota in 2019 to serve as its offensive line coach and run game coordinator. He has been an NFL assistant coach since 1995.

The league informed clubs in April that Tier 1 and 2 employees (excluding players) "should be expected to be vaccinated unless they have a bona fide medical or religious ground for not doing so." Those who refuse vaccination without either a religious or medical reason will not be eligible for Tier 1 or 2 status "and therefore will not be permitted access to the 'football only' restricted area and may not work directly or in close proximity with players."

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