CLEVELAND, Ohio – Browns cornerback Danielle Ward tested positive for COVID-19, a league source told Clevelandpeeds, and would almost win on Sunday at First Eergy Stadium.
Ward was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list on Thursday and may possibly miss a playoff game as he must set aside for at least 10 days.
If Brown defeated the Steelers on Sunday to bring in a playoff berth, Ward would close it for the first playoff game with a 10-day minimum isolation period. If the game takes place on 9 January, Ward will have to sit outside. If it is on January 10, he may be able to play.
It is possible that the Browns could face the Steelers in the first round of the final next week if the Browns win at the First Yearnegie Stadium next Sunday.
Located at the top corner of the Browns, Ward was one of three more Browns players who tested positive on Thursday. The other two linebacks are Malcolm Smith and tight end Harrison Bryant. As a result, after consulting with the NFL office, Brown kept his facility closed for the entire day and canceled the practice.
Brown has two other players who will be out of the Steelers game after a positive COVID-19 test: linebacker BJ Goodson and free safety Andrew Sendezzo. Despite three new positive tests, Sunday’s game still continues, the NFL said.
Brown on Thursday activated five key players from the COVID-19 reserve list: Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Khadel Hodge, and linebacker Jacob Phillips.
The Browns were eager to bring four of their top receivers and Phillies back on Thursday, but it never materialized. The day started with Smith and Bryant testing positive, and Brown shut down his facility until further notice for the second straight day.
While he awaited the results of contact tracing, he held regularly scheduled zoom video conferences with coach Kevin Stefanski, offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, defensive coordinator Joe Woods, and special teams coordinator Mike Prefer.
All were eager to get some players back today and were trying to defeat the Steelers on Sunday.
If the Browns win, they will achieve their first playoff berth in 18 years. If they lose, they will have to rely on the Colts losing to the 1–14 Jaguars or another multi-team scenario.
Three positive tests came on Thursday, the same day news came from Pittsburgh that pro bowlers TJ Watt, Cam Hayward and Maurice Pusey would meet Ben Roethlisberger on the sidelines in a street dress, according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
With Mason Rudolph starting the game, it seemed that the Browns were the longest lock in the NFL to snap their 17-year playoff drought. But now, with more important Browns players going on the list, nothing is certain.
The Brown defense has been particularly hard-pressed for the game – and there are still two days left for players to test positive or be identified as high-risk close contacts. Brown would be without Ward, Goodson, Sendezzo and Smith.
They also have two linebacks, who suffered ankle injuries to the Jets 23–16, and who were limited in practice on Wednesday: Sion Takitaki and Tae Davis.
But the Browns have other players returning to the lineup that will help in a tremendous way: left tackle Jaydrick Wills Jr. is back from his illness and Wyatt Taylor will return from his high ankle sprain. Safety Ronnie Harrison will return after missing four matches with his shoulder injury.
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