CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns got the all-clear to practice for the first time all week after dealing with a COVID-19 situation, but not before losing another player to the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Safety Jovante Moffatt was placed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list Friday afternoon, joining safety Ronnie Harrison who was placed on the list Thursday, as well as guard Joel Bitonio, wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge, linebacker Malcolm Smith, tight end Harrison Bryant and cornerback Denzel Ward.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski also tested positive for COVID-19 and will be unavailable to coach during Sunday’s playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will fill in as acting head coach and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt will call plays in Stefanski’s absence.
Ward, Bryant and Smith have a chance to be activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list in time for the game on Sunday, but the team is still waiting to determine if that is possible.
The Browns were able to activate center Javon Patterson from the practice squad/COVID-19 list Friday, after he was placed on the list on Dec. 30, four days after being elevated from the practice squad as a COVID-19 replacement.
Despite the Browns still making COVID-19-related roster moves, the team was able to get the go-ahead to hold practice Friday afternoon.
The Browns were cleared to hold an indoor practice at 4:30 p.m.—the team’s first practice all week.
COVID-19 positives and contact tracing closed the facility on Tuesday after Stefanski, two other coaches, and two players tested positive for the virus. The facility remained closed every day since with virtual meetings and walkthroughs held while the team waited to get back into the building.
On Thursday, quarterback Baker Mayfield said he had not thrown a football since Sunday’s Week 17 game against the Steelers, but said he was working out from home as best he could in the meantime.
“A lot of band and bodyweight stuff. It is doing a lot of walkthrough of my footwork and trying to tie those in together. Just getting up moving around like we potentially could. Everybody’s setup is different, and that is how it was in the offseason so you have to find a way to get the most out of it and do it safely,” Mayfield said.
Still, despite not having the ability to practice all week, Mayfield said they would not be using that as an excuse and still need to enter their first playoff game in 18 years prepared and ready to fight for a win.
“It is what it is. There are no excuses, but luckily, we just played them last week so it is not like we are practicing against a whole new defense, essentially is what I am trying to get at. We have to be ready for the wrinkles, but luckily, we have game-planned against these guys and everybody is sitting here in the second week in a row preparation for the Pittsburgh defense,” Mayfield said.