Sunday is a bittersweet day for Browns fans.
While the Cleveland faithful can revel in the franchise’s first playoff appearance since Kelly Holcomb donned brown and orange in 2003, the team faces a steep, uphill climb as they take on the Steelers on Sunday morning. night. Not just because Cleveland is facing division rival Pittsburgh for the third time this season, but because it won’t have multiple coaches and players heading into the wild-card showdown.
Earlier last week, head coach Kevin Stefanski was one of several Browns players and staff who tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19), knocking them out.
The Browns have had several frictions with COVID-19 this season, including a scare with quarterback Baker Mayfield earlier in the season: Mayfield landed on Cleveland’s COVID-19 roster after coming into close contact with another member of the Browns who tested positive. but he never tested positive for the virus.
Now, heading into their first playoff appearance in nearly two decades, the Browns have a more than difficult task ahead of them.
List of COVID-19 browns
The outbreak in Cleveland, which began nearly three weeks ago, has passed through the active roster as well, reaching the coaching ranks the week of January 3. While some players were activated from the COVID-19 list on Saturday, there is still a bevy of players and coaches off the field coming Sunday.
Players and coaches inactive on Sunday:
- Coach Kevin Stefanski
- Tight ends coach Drew Perzlig
- Defensive backs coach Jeff Howard
- Offensive line coach Bill Callahan
- Assistant Offensive Line Coach Scott Peters
- Offensive lineman Joe Bitonio
- Defensive defender Denzel Ward
- Defender Kevin Johnson
- Wide receiver KhaDarel Hodges
Tight end Harrison Bryant, safety Ronnie Harrison and linebacker Malcolm Smith, who were recently placed on the COVID-19 list, were activated from the COVID-19 / reserve list on Saturday, allowing them to play in Sunday’s game. .
How did the Browns outbreak start?
While no genesis, reunion, or clear violation of NFL coronavirus protocols was reported, in December, several Browns players were placed on the team’s reserve / COVID-19 roster prior to their showdown with the Jets: Wide receivers Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, KhaDarel Hodge and Donovan Peoples-Jones, and linebackers BJ Goodson and Jacob Phillips also landed on the list. The game would be played as scheduled and the Browns would lose 23-16 to New York.
Before Cleveland’s Week 17 matchup against Pittsburgh, Landry, Higgin and Peoples-Jones all kicked in, while Hodge remained on the roster. However, they got more bad news: safeties Andrew Sendejo and Karl Joseph would land on the COVID-19 list, along with tight end Harrison Bryant.
The team would close its facilities on Dec. 30 to allow the NFL to carry out its contact tracing policy, and it will eventually reopen the same day.
Cleveland would surprise Pittsburgh in Week 17, earning a win and a playoff berth, but would get bad news after the win, with head coach Kevin Stefanski and other coaches testing positive for COVID-19, leaving playoff hopes behind. of Cleveland in the hands of Browns. special teams coach Mike Priefer, who is the interim head coach on Sunday.
Recent testing of the Browns has returned negative results, meaning all systems are ready for Sunday’s playoff showdown with the Steelers.
“As we continue to monitor, there has been no indication of a spread between team facilities,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “This is based on contact tracing and also genomic sequencing that has been done to date.”
If the Browns advance, Stefanski and others are expected to return in the divisional round.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.