Cleveland Browns and LA Rams place players on COVID lists ahead of key NFL games
Cleveland Browns place cornerback Denzel Ward and linebacker Malcolm Smith on COVID list ahead of crucial game against Pittsburgh Steelers; LA Rams add defensive end Michael Brockers to their COVID list; watch Steelers @ Browns and Cardinals @ Rams live on Sky Sports NFL on Sunday
Last Updated: 01/01/21 11:24am
The Cleveland Browns' preparations for their pivotal regular-season finale took another hit with the team unable to practice on Thursday after two more players tested positive for COVID-19, Reuters are reporting.
The Browns, who can clinch their first play-off berth in 17 years with a win over the rival Pittsburgh Steelers in a game being shown live on Sky Sports NFL on Sunday, said they would instead work remotely for the rest of the day and hope to reopen on New Year's Day, after cornerback Denzel Ward and linebacker Malcolm Smith were added to the team's COVID-19 list.
"In light of today's positive test results and after consulting with the NFL, we've decided to keep our facility closed for the day," the Browns said in a statement.
"As we've previously stated, the health and well-being of our players, coaches and staff is our highest priority and this decision was made with that in mind."
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Cleveland had to close their facility on Wednesday after a coach and practice squad player tested positive for coronavirus but the team were cleared to reopen the site hours later after contract tracing was completed.
The Browns were without their top four receivers for last Sunday's game as they were all placed on the reserve COVID-19 list since they were considered high-risk close contacts with another player who tested positive.
The four receivers - Rashard Higgins, KhaDarel Hodge, Jarvis Landry and Donovan Peoples-Jones, along with linebacker Jacob Phillips - were activated on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Rams had to add another key player to the COVID-19/reserve list in advance of a key Week 17 home matchup with the Arizona Cardinals - live on Sky Sports NFL from 9.15pm on Sunday - with defensive end Michael Brockers forced to join wide receiver Cooper Kupp on the list, according to Field Level Media.
While Kupp reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 and will not play Sunday, there is no indication if Brockers tested positive or was in close contact with somebody that did.
We've placed Michael Brockers on the reserve/COVID-19 list.— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) December 31, 2020
Brockers, whose reason for not practicing Wednesday was listed as "not injury related," could still play Sunday if he was deemed to have a medium-risk close contact.
He would not be able to play if he tested positive or had a high-risk contact with somebody who was infected.
The Rams already will be without quarterback Jared Goff, who underwent surgery this week for a thumb injury that occurred during Sunday's loss at Seattle.
John Wolford, who has never taken a snap in an NFL game, will start against the Cardinals with a playoff spot on the line.
The Rams would advance to the playoffs with a victory over the Cardinals on Sunday or a Chicago Bears loss to the Green Bay Packers.
The Cardinals need a victory to advance to the playoffs for the first time since 2015.