Prior to the start of Saturday’s playoff games, a slew of roster moves were announced by the Cleveland Browns in anticipation of Sunday night’s playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Some of the news was good, while some of it was not so good.
The Bad News - Denzel Ward is Out
Let’s start with the bad news: CB Denzel Ward and CB Kevin Johnson are both out for the game. While we didn’t expect to have Johnson back, Ward was right on the border of the 10-day window for being able to play in the game. However, the deadline for activations is 4:00 PM today, and the team announced that neither Ward nor Johnson will make that cutoff.
With CB Terrance Mitchell’s status still a mystery with his “non-injury related designation,” there is a chance that Cleveland could be missing their top three cornerbacks on Sunday against a talented group of Pittsburgh receivers.
The Good News - Some Players are Back, Including Ronnie Harrison
The team did receive some good news on Saturday, starting with the fact that the tests for SS Ronnie Harrison and LB Montrel Meander turned out to be false positives, after further review from the league. Harrison was activated today and will be able to start on Sunday; Meander is on the practice squad. Since S Jovante Moffatt had been a close contact of one of those players, he also is now activated and allowed to play on Sunday.
In addition, Cleveland announced that LB Malcolm Smith and TE Harrison Bryant have both been activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and can play against the Steelers. That means Cleveland’s top two linebackers, Smith and LB B.J. Goodson, are back — and the team’s tight end depth is improved with Bryant returning.
- Not including coaches, the players missing this game for sure due to COVID-19 are LG Joel Bitonio, WR KhaDarel Hodge, CB Denzel Ward, and CB Kevin Johnson.
- Cleveland is calling WR Ja’Marcus Bradley, OT Alex Taylor, and CB A.J. Green up to the roster to be extra reinforcements for gameday.
- We have no updates on the status of RT Jack Conklin and CB Terrance Mitchell. Conklin did not practice on Friday with an illness. Hopefully he makes the flight with the team today.
- There was some discussion about remote coaching, but as of this morning, there was no change to the regulation, so I wouldn’t count on it.
On matter of remote coaching (ie Stefanski) NFL discussing it with competition committee but no change to that regulation for now— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 9, 2021