BEREA, Ohio — With a rash of players ending up on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, the Cleveland Browns have implemented enhanced COVID-19 protocols to try to eliminate any spread of the virus around the facility.
On Monday, the Browns placed running back John Kelly on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and wide receiver Lawrence Cager on the Practice Squad/COVID-19 list. The next day, running backs Nick Chubb and Demetric Felton tested positive for the virus. They were placed on the COVID-19 list shortly after.
Both players are vaccinated, so their status for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots remains in question.
With John Kelly on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, the Browns are down to one running back: D'Ernest Johnson. Johnson is a close contact but he is vaccinated. He can practice but must undergo daily testing.
On Wednesday, the Browns also placed center Nick Harris on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski said that after Harris was placed on the list, there were no other positive tests to report for the day.
But with more cases popping up means more chances that the virus could spread across the roster, or impact players or coaches deemed close contacts. That's why the Browns have implemented their enhanced COVID-19 protocols.
Under the enhanced measures, all meetings have been moved to a virtual setting, with media availability as well as team and player meetings done via Zoom.
The team is also mandating masks be worn inside the facility at all times by all players, coaches and staff. Stefanski said that the cafeteria has been closed at the facility as well to prevent congregating and eating inside in a setting that would not allow for masking.
Most importantly, the team is implementing daily testing for all players, vaccinated and unvaccinated, with the Mesa nasal swabs to make sure any positive results are quickly flagged to prevent any additional spread.
The Browns have gone through this before, on a bigger scale even, when the team lost nearly their entire wide receiver room after numerous players were placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list just before the team departed for their game against the New York Jets.
While the Browns have seen nearly the entire running backs room sidelined currently due to COVID_19, Stefanski said the benefit to this situation is it isn't happening last minute like last season, giving them time to come up with a solid plan.
"We just have to be problem solvers," Stefanski said. "We'll see who's available to us. We have contingency plans. Just kind of have to deal with it day to day."
The Browns will continue to be vigilant about their COVID-19 protocols as the week goes on and they prepare for a tough test on the road, taking on the New England Patriots Sunday at Gillette Stadium, looking to get their first win on that field since 1992.
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