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Brandon Beane cites COVID-19 for Star Lotulelei’s late season step back

The big defensive tackle had a rough second half of the season

On November 14, the Buffalo Bills placed unvaccinated defensive tackle Star Lotulelei on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. He was activated off the list two weeks later, but Bills general manager Brandon Beane made some interesting comments in his postseason press conference about the big man.

Beane told reporters on Wednesday that Lotulelei “was never the same force” after he contracted COVID-19. Prior to that, Beane praised Lotulelei’s play.

Lotulelei came back in Week 13’s game against the New England Patriots and played more than 47% of the team’s snaps as he had done in every game except Week 2 (when he was recovering from a preseason injury that kept him out of Week 1). The following week against Carolina, he played just 29% of the snaps and ceded his starting spot to Harrison Phillips for the rest of the season. He was around one-third of the snaps over the last two weeks of the regular season and the Wild Card round before getting back to 43% against the Chiefs in the divisional round.

It took left tackle Dion Dawkins a few weeks to round into form at the beginning of the season following his bout with COVID-19 that disrupted the early part of training camp and put him in the hospital. He was able to play at a high level and earn a Pro Bowl nod in 2021.