The Cleveland Browns hope to practice Wednesday for their highly anticipated win-and-in showdown this weekend against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they're in a holding pattern because of more positive COVID-19 cases.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said on Zoom a practice squad player and an assistant coach tested positive for the virus, so the team's headquarters in Berea has been shut down while contact tracing is conducted.
Practice had been scheduled to begin at 1:05 p.m. Wednesday, but it will be pushed back.
"That's 2020," Stefanski said. "We're all prepared to adapt as necessary."
The logo for the Cleveland Browns. (Photo: Cleveland Browns/TNS)
On Tuesday, the Browns placed three players on the reserve/COVID-19 list: starting free safety Andrew Sendejo, strong safety Karl Joseph and rookie tight end Harrison Bryant.
Sendejo won't be available to play Sunday when the Browns (10-5) host the Steelers (12-3) in the regular-season finale, but Joseph and Bryant are high-risk close contacts who have a chance to return in time for the game, a person familiar with the situation said.
The Browns would clinch their first playoff berth since 2002 with a victory over the Steelers. The Steelers will start backup quarterback Mason Rudolph instead of Ben Roethlisberger, but a win for the Browns is still far from a certainty, especially with the challenges they're encountering related to the pandemic.
"You don't want to have these [issues] at any point," Stefanski. "I want our guys to be healthy and safe, but we'll deal with this as it comes our way."
Starting linebacker B.J. Goodson won't be able to face the Steelers, either. He tested positive for the virus on Saturday.
Wide receivers Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones and KhaDarel Hodge and rookie linebacker Jacob Phillips had to sit out Sunday's 23-16 loss to the New York Jets with Goodson because they were identified as his high-risk close contacts.
Stefanski said the receivers and Phillips remain on schedule to return to practice Thursday, provided they continue to test negative.
Stefanski said he expects rookie starting left tackle Jedrick Wills to be able to return to practice this week. Wills has been dealing with an illness, but he hasn't tested positive for COVID-19.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at [email protected]
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