The Ravens placed outside linebacker Pernell McPhee on the reserve/COVID-19 list Nov. 24 as a COVID-19 outbreak has apparently hit the Ravens’ locker room, but the NFL says the team’s Thanksgiving night showdown at the Pittsburgh Steelers will go on as scheduled.
“We will continue to monitor developments in consultation with our medical experts,” an NFL spokesman said. “Our foremost concern is the health and safety of players, coaches and gameday personnel.”
The Ravens (6-4) were already reeling before this COVID-19 outbreak with three losses in the past four games, including a 30-24 overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans Nov. 22. With a win at Heinz Field on Thanksgiving night, the Steelers (10-0) would eliminate the Ravens from AFC North contention.
The team said in a statement released Nov. 24 that, “with the health and safety of players and staff remaining the highest priority,” all team activities would be conducted virtually, and the team canceled the scheduled news conferences with the coordinators. The statement made no mention of additional positive tests.
According to a report from ESPN, five players and four staff members have tested positive this week, though head coach John Harbaugh has confirmed just two positive tests (running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins).
Ingram and Dobbins were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Nov. 23. Defensive tackle Brandon Williams was also placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list because he was a close contact of someone who tested positive, Harbaugh said.
After learning of the positive tests of Ingram and Dobbins, the team closed its facility, but reopened it later that day and held a masked walkthrough workout.
The Ravens now have six players on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Third-string quarterback Trace McSorley had been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Nov. 20, and cornerback Iman Marshall, who is on injured reserve, was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Nov. 12.
McPhee’s status on the reserve/COVID-19 list rules him out for the Steelers game and also puts into doubt his availability for next week, as the Ravens are scheduled to host the Dallas Cowboys Dec. 3. According to the NFL’s COVID protocols, anyone testing positive must isolate for 10 days from the time of the positive test.
McPhee, 31, was re-signed to a one-year deal this season and has appeared in all 10 games, with 25 tackles, two sacks and 11 quarterback hits.
The NFL juggled scheduling earlier in the year based on positive COVID tests, most notably among the Tennessee Titans. The Ravens first game against the Steelers was moved from Oct. 25 to Nov. 1 as bye weeks were shuffled to accommodate the Titans.
But with no more bye weeks, the league has been reluctant to reschedule games, which would extend the season by a week.
When the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers played on Nov. 5, both teams were missing several players who had been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, but the game went on as scheduled.
The league also has approved a contingency whereby eight teams rather than seven from each conference will make the postseason if “meaningful” games must be canceled because of COVID-19.
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