UPDATED at 6:11 pm: The Browns make it official as they have ruled out wide receivers Rashard Higgins, KhaDarel Hodge, Jarvis Landry and Donovan Peoples-Jones, along with linebacker Jacob Phillips for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.
We've placed WR Rashard Higgins, WR KhaDarel Hodge, WR Jarvis Landry, WR Donovan Peoples-Jones & LB Jacob Phillips on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 26, 2020
In addition, we've elevated (Contagious Disease Addendum) WR Ja’Marcus Bradley, LB Montrel Meander & WR Derrick Willies from the PS. pic.twitter.com/sCSte9PejF
In their place, the Browns promoted wide receivers Ja’Marcus Bradley and Derrick Willies from the practice squad, along with linebacker Montrel Meander.
If Sunday’s game goes on as scheduled, quarterback Baker Mayfield will be throwing to a wide receiver group of Bradley, Willies and Marvin Hall, who the Browns claimed off waivers from the Detroit Lions a few weeks ago.
That trio has combined to catch 39 passes for 821 yards and five touchdowns in the NFL, with all but three of those catches and 61 of those yards coming from Hall.
Looks like the Browns running game is going to get a big workout this week.
UPDATED at 6 pm: And the list keeps on growing as wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge and linebacker Jacob Phillips will also miss Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.
That is according to cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot.
So if you are keeping score at home, that is all four of Cleveland’s top wide receivers who will reportedly miss the game, as well as two of their linebackers.
No word as of yet if the NFL will consider postponing the game to give the Browns the same level of treatment they gave the Baltimore Ravens when they ran into a similar issue a few weeks back.
UPDATED at 5:50 pm: It did not take long for ESPN’s Adam Schefter to come up with the names of the Browns wide receivers who were deemed to be high risk, close contacts to linebacker B.J. Goodson, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday.
Schefter is reporting that Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins and Donovan Peoples-Jones were in the group and all three might be out for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.
Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins and Donovan People-Jones have been deemed High-Risk-Close-Contacts, per @mortreport and me. Browns awaiting further instruction but all three now could be out Sunday vs. Jets. https://t.co/TyMsq3IPhV— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 26, 2020
If those three players can’t go, that takes 115 receptions, 1,626 yards and nine touchdowns out of Cleveland’s lineup against a Jets defense that comes into the game ranked 30th against the pass.
UPDATED at 5:41 pm: The Cleveland Browns may be without some of their wide receivers and one of their tight ends after contact tracing reportedly deemed them “high risk, close contact” with linebacker B.J. Goodson, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday.
The Browns are still waiting to find out who among the group can travel to New Jersey for Sunday’s scheduled game against the New York Jets, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN:
A group of Browns wide receivers have been deemed High-Risk-Close-Contacts and Cleveland is awaiting word as to how many will not be able to travel to New York for Sunday’s game vs. Jets, sources tell @mortreport and me. Game is on but Browns likely without WRs and possibly a TE.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 26, 2020
Schefter did not report any names, so it is unclear who might miss the game because of being in the high risk, close contact group.
The Browns should be able to get by without one of their tight ends if need be, but losing more than one wide receiver could be problematic, even against a team as weak as the Jets, who come into the game with the 30th-ranked pass defense but are a somewhat respectable 14th against the run.
UPDATED at 4:38 pm: The Cleveland Browns placed linebacker B.J. Goodson on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday.
The team discovered that Goodson had tested positive earlier in the day and subsequently closed team headquarters in Berea and delayed the team flight to New Jersey to conduct contact tracing.
We've made the following roster moves:— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 26, 2020
Placed on Reserve/COVID-19:
LB B.J. Goodson
Activated from Reserve/COVID-19:
T Jedrick Wills Jr.
Elevated from practice squad:
C Javon Patterson (COVID-19 replacement) pic.twitter.com/LngaU6zGMM
The Browns have yet to release any news about the contact tracing, but did activate left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. from the Reserve/COVID-19 list, where he has been since Thursday, meaning he will be eligible to play against the Jets.
Finally, the club activated center Javon Patterson from the practice squad for the game against the Jets. Patterson will fill in as the backup center with rookie Nick Harris starting at right guard in place of the injured Wyatt Teller.
Patterson was also a seventh-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, picked eight slots after Denmark, by the Indianapolis Colts out of Mississippi. He spent his rookie season on the injured reserve list for the Colts after tearing his ACL, was cut at the end of training camp in September, and had a cup of coffee on the practice squad of the New York Giants.
The 6-foot-3 and 305-pound Patterson made 42 starts at Mississippi, mostly at left guard (37). But he also saw time at center, with three starts, and right guard, with two starts.
The Cleveland Browns shut down team headquarters in Berea and put their flight to New Jersey on hold Saturday afternoon after a player tested positive for COVID-19.
The Browns were planning to head off to New Jersey for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets, but that is currently on hold while the team conducts contact tracing.
Our facility is closed and our flight to New Jersey has been delayed while contact tracing is being conducted. pic.twitter.com/eAJMHw1hj4— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 26, 2020
The statement from the Browns reads:
“Earlier today, the Cleveland Browns were informed that a player’s test results have come back positive for COVID-19. Our facility is closed and our flight to New Jersey has been delayed while contact tracing is being conducted. The team is holding meetings remotely as we continue to consult with the NFL and medical experts on the appropriate next steps as the health and safety of our players, coaches, staff and the entire community remains our highest priority.”
The Browns did not release the name of the player, but cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot is reporting that it is not left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr., who was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday.
If the contact tracing reveals that no one else is impacted, then the Browns should have no trouble being on their way for the game.
However, if it turns out that this is more widespread than just one player, there is a possibility the NFL would consider moving the game back a day or two as they have done with other contests throughout the 2020 season.