- Arizona Cardinals’ wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will miss Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots after testing positive for COVID-19.
- The Cleveland Browns have their own coronavirus issues and have been forced to close their team facility after multiple positive tests.
- As of Thursday night, all of Sunday’s games–including the write-in rescheduled game between the Steelers and Ravens–are still on the docket.
The NFL has had a rough week on the COVID-19 front. The most high profile issue has been in Baltimore where a rash of positive coronavirus tests initially forced the Ravens’ Week 12 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers to be rescheduled to Sunday from Thanksgiving Day. That was before Baltimore starting QB Lamar Jackson also tested positive for COVID-19. The status of the game is in doubt though there are conflicting reports on whether or not it has already been postponed.
The situation isn’t much better elsewhere in the league. In Arizona, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has been ruled OUT after a positive COVID-19 test. Receiver Trent Sherfield is listed as QUESTIONABLE though unlikely to play. Sherfield was reportedly added to the COVID-19/Reserve list due to contact tracing. In addition, safety Deionte Thompson was added to the list on Tuesday. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury suggests that there wasn’t much contact tracing done with Thompson though he’s generally comfortable with where the team is at:
“It appeared that there wasn’t much contact tracing with [Thompson. I think a lot of the timing had to do with it since we had the weekend off and that probably played in our favor. We feel good about where we’re at right now.”
Larry Fitzgerald is basically as much of a ‘lock’ for the Hall of Fame as there is in the NFL. In addition to being a ridiculously skilled, 11 time Pro Bowl selection he’s been exceptionally durable. Sunday will be only the 7th game he’s missed during his 17 year career. He hasn’t missed a game since 2014 when he missed two contests due to a sprained MCL. Before that, he last missed a game in 2007. Here’s what Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick said about Fitzgerald earlier this week:
“He’s, I would say, to receivers what Peyton Manning was to quarterbacks, in terms of the type of total obsession of knowing everything about the position and how to do things and convey those to his teammates. He’s had tremendous production. I mean, other than Jerry Rice, those two guys are really at the top of the production list in pretty much every area. His longevity has been remarkable. … He’s a tremendous player. He’s had a tremendous career. I don’t know how you could do much more than what he’s done in the amount of time he’s done it in.”
When you’re a wide receiver and you’re mentioned in the same breath as Jerry Rice it means you’re as good as it gets. The Cardinals will be thin at the position on Sunday with only four healthy wide receivers: DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella and KeeSean Johnson.
CLEVELAND BROWNS CLOSE FACILITY DUE TO COVID-19
The Cleveland Browns have also struggled with COVID-19 related issues. On Wednesday, they were forced to close team facilities after their fourth positive test in less than two weeks. On Thanksgiving morning, a fifth positive test was acknowledged. Here’s the team’s announcement about the situation:
Later in the day, the team announced that DE Porter Gustin was added to the COVID-19/Reserve list:
CBS Sports deduced that Gustin was the 5th positive test:
Although the NFL adds high risk contacts to the COVID-19 list, it has been relatively easy to deduct which players actually have the virus. When reserve offensive lineman Chris Hubbard, fullback Andy Janovich, defensive end Myles Garrett and linebacker Sione Takitaki were added to the COVID-19 list, the team released a statement earlier in the day acknowledging that a player tested positive. Zero statements were released on the days that defensive end Joe Jackson, offensive tackle Jack Conklin, long snapper Charley Hughlett and kicker Cody Parkey were added to the COVID-19 list. Conklin and Parkey were able to play the same week.
The identity of the fifth positive test has not been identified but it should become clear in the coming hours when the Browns add a player to the COVID-19 list.
For now at least, Week 12 games involving both Cleveland and Arizona are still on the betting board. Arizona is a -1.5 or -2 favorite at New England with the total set at 49 or 49.5:
Cleveland is a 6.5 or 7 point favorite at Jacksonville with the total at 49 or 49.5:
There should be more clarity about the status of the Baltimore/Pittsburgh game on Friday.