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It has been another stressful week for Cleveland Browns and their fans. The team was decimated late last week when they had to place a handful of key players on the COVID-19/reserve list.
Fans then watched their team lose 23-16 to the one-win New York Jets, putting their playoff chances in peril heading into Week 17.
Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanski said Monday that Browns players who were placed on the list Saturday should be back Thursday.
“I think Thursday is the day, provided they all continue to test negative,” Stefanski told the media.
Tuesday, the team put two more players (TE Harrison Bryant and S Andrew Sendejo) on the COVID-19 list.
The club then announced on Wednesday that a player and staff member had also tested positive for COVID-19, and the team had to close their facility on the first day of the “work week” leading up to a huge game at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But now, some good news for the organization. Late Wednesday, Coach Kevin Stefanski revealed that the facility had been reopened and that the team would have a normal practice to start the week.
League officials said Wednesday on a media call that the game can be played safely at First Energy Stadium in Cleveland, despite the Browns having 10 players currently on the COVID-19/reserve list.
A win by Cleveland puts them in the postseason for the first time since 2002, oddly enough a season that ended with a Wild Card loss to Tommy Maddox and the Steelers at Heinz Field.
Pushing back the Week 17 game that has massive playoff implications would be a nightmare for the league. Even delaying it until Monday would put both the Steelers and Browns at a disadvantage as they would only have at most six days to prepare for a “win or go home” playoff game.
A lot of Browns fans were upset last week when the league didn’t postpone the game against the Jets a day to allow the Browns to prepare players they were bringing up from the practice squad.
The lack of preparation on the Browns offense showed. The team rushed for just four yards in the first half, despite having Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, and until late in the third quarter, the team didn’t score an offensive touchdown.
If the stars align, there will be a third meeting with the Steelers and Browns next weekend, again at Heinz Field with Pittsburgh clinching the AFC North.