Browns close facility after more positive COVID tests, but expect close contacts who missed Jets game to return Thursday

Cassandra Negley
·Writer
·3-min read

The Cleveland Browns shut down their facility for the second time in five days due to positive COVID-19 tests within the organization. One practice squad player and one coach tested positive on Wednesday, head coach Kevin Stefanski said, and the team is conducting contract tracing.

There are now 10 players on the Browns’ COVID-19 list, though as many as seven are expected to return to practice on Thursday. The Browns play their AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday in a win-and-in game to reach the playoffs.

Browns who missed Jets game expected back for Week 17

Up to seven Browns players who missed the Week 16 loss to the New York Jets are expected to return to practices this week, Stefanski said. Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, KhaDarel Hodge and Jacob Phillips are the five expected to come off the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday. Harrison Bryant and Karl Joseph could also come off the list.

Wyatt Teller and Ronnie Harrison are both set to practice on Wednesday if the team is given the OK by the NFL’s league offices. They are both coming off injuries. And rookie offensive lineman Jedrick Wills is expected back after an illness.

The Browns found out about a positive test on Saturday that sent four receivers and two starting linebackers to the reserve/COVID-19 list. The news came as they were preparing to fly to New York, and it forced their flight to be delayed four hours.

The Jets pulled off a 23-16 upset, and the Browns were unable to clinch their first playoff berth since 2002.

Steelers, Browns coaches address Rudolph-Garrett helmet incident

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry is expected back at practice after being a close contact of a player who tested positive for COVID-19. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry is expected back at practice after being a close contact of a player who tested positive for COVID-19. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

The Browns (10-5) host the Steelers (12-3) in the regular season finale. Pittsburgh clinched the AFC North last week and can’t finish any lower than the No. 3 seed, so coach Mike Tomlin is resting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

That means back up Mason Rudolph will helm the offense. The last time Rudolph started against the Browns, the game ended with the Browns star defensive end Myles Garrett hitting him in the head with the quarterback’s own helmet. Garrett was suspended indefinitely after the game in November 2019.

Both coaches were understandably asked about the situation. Stefanski said only that his team is “well past” the incident.

Tomlin said there is “no need” to address it and the organization is past it.

“That’s so far in our rearview mirror we can’t see it,’' Tomlin said, via Mary Kay Cabot at Cleveland.com.

“We left ’19 in ’19,” he said. “There’s no residue from that from my perspective or our perspective.”

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