The Ravens’ game at Pittsburgh — which had been postponed from Thanksgiving night to Nov. 29, has been pushed back once again to Tuesday, Dec. 1, as a COVID-19 outbreak continues to tear through the Ravens’ locker room.
The Ravens’ home game against the Dallas Cowboys, originally scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 3, has been moved to Dec. 7, at 5 p.m. as part of a Monday night doubleheader.
“We appreciate the efforts of the NFL and Pittsburgh Steelers throughout this process, while we all work to create an environment that keeps the health and safety of everyone involved at the forefront of each decision,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said in a statement released by the team. “Our organization has a plan in place, and we will be prepared to play the Steelers. We thank everyone for their adaptability and look forward to the challenge of facing a very good football team at Heinz Field on Tuesday night.”
On Nov. 27, the Ravens placed quarterback Lamar Jackson, fullback Patrick Ricard, defensive lineman Justin Madubuike and long snapper Morgan Cox on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list, increasing to 14 the number of Ravens on that list, with 12 of them added in the past week.
Meanwhile, the Steelers announced that they had placed three players — defensive tackle Isaiah Buggs, offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins and defensive end Stephon Tuitt — on the reserve/COVID-19 list Nov. 27.
The reserve/COVID-19 list is for players who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been deemed close contacts with someone who tested positive.
Players who test positive must self-isolate for 10 days, while close contacts can return after testing negative for five consecutive days. With the Cowboys game moved to Dec. 7, some of those placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list could return, provided they test negatively and are symptom-free.
The Ravens have not commented on any of these most recent cases; Harbaugh confirmed Nov. 23 that running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins had tested positive, and that defensive lineman Brandon Williams was added to the list as a close contact. So Williams could be available for a rescheduled Steelers game, though he is dealing with an ankle injury and might not be healthy enough to play.
NFL Network first reported on Thanksgiving night that Jackson, the league’s reigning Most Valuable Player, had tested positive.
Not long after that, quarterback Robert Griffin III tweeted concern for Jackson and “every player, staff member and their families dealing with COVID-19.”
Defensive end Calais Campbell, who was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list Nov. 25, echoed Griffin’s sentiment that, “This is bigger than football.” Campbell had said this summer that he had considered opting out of the season because of an underlying condition (asthma).
ESPN reported that the Ravens have closed their facility and will not allow any access until Monday, Nov. 30, at the earliest.
The Ravens have had multiple positive tests among players and staff since Sunday, Nov. 22; Ingram and Dobbins were added to the reserve/COVID-19 list Nov. 23 based on their testing before the Ravens’ game that day against the Tennessee Titans.
Later in the week, the Ravens said they had disciplined an unnamed staff member for “conduct surrounding the recent COVID-19 cases that have affected players and staff.” The Athletic reported that was strength and conditioning coach Steve Saunders.
These scheduling changes are contingent, of course, on the Ravens’ outbreak easing. The Ravens have had multiple positive players and staff test positive for COVID-19 every day this past week. So it remains a fluid situation.
The Ravens (6-4) have lost three of their past four games and would be eliminated from AFC North title contention if the Steelers (10-0) win. The Steelers beat the Ravens, 28-24, in Baltimore Nov. 1.
With Jackson on the reserve/COVID-19 list, Robert Griffin III would be in line to make his second start as a Raven — his other one also came against Pittsburgh, in Week 17 last year when the Ravens opted to rest several starters before the playoffs. Griffin completed 11 of 21 passes for 96 yards in a 28-10 Ravens win.
As of Nov. 27, these are the Ravens players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, given in order of when they first appeared on the list:
CB Iman Marshall (on injured reserve)
QB Trace McSorley
RB Mark Ingram
RB J.K. Dobbins
DL Brandon Williams
OLB Pernell McPhee
C Patrick Mekari
C Matt Skura
DE Calais Campbell
OLB Jihad Ward
QB Lamar Jackson
FB Patrick Ricard
DL Justin Maduibuike
LS Morgan Cox
This story was updated with Harbaugh’s statement from the team.
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