The Cleveland Browns placed linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. and punter Jamie Gillan on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday.
We've placed P Jamie Gillan and LB Anthony Walker Jr. on the reserve/COVID-19 list— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 9, 2021
There is still a possibility that Njoku will be cleared to play on Sunday, but with the minimum requirement being two negative tests 24 hours apart by Saturday afternoon, it is pretty unlikely that Walker and Gillan will be able to play against the Ravens.
#Browns punter Jamie Gillan tested positive for COVID-19 and is expected to miss Sunday’s game against the #Ravens, per sources. Gillan is fully vaccinated but likely not enough time to get two negatives.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 9, 2021
Walker missed three games earlier this season after being placed on injured reserve, so filling his spot for Sunday’s game might be relatively easy, with Malcolm Smith, Elijah Lee and possibly Jacob Phillips available to play.
Gillan is another story, however, as not only does he handle the punting duties but he also holds for extra points and field goals.
Cleveland does not currently have another punter on the roster or practice squad, although placekicker Chris Naggar, who is on the team’s practice squad, did punt in college. In 2019 with Texas, he averaged 39.3 yards on 25 punts, and followed that up in 2020 by averaging the same 39.3 yards on 29 punts after transferring to SMU.
If the Browns want to get crazy, they could always turn to linebacker Mack Wilson, who served as Alabama’s back-up punter.
That would not solve the issue with who would hold for kicks, among other things, but if the Browns promote Naggar it would seem likely that he would also be the holder on field goals and extra points. Backup quarterback Case Keenum could also be an option, as once upon a time in the NFL the backup quarterback often served as the placeholder on kicks.
With a couple of days left before Sunday’s game, the Browns could also look to sign a veteran punter who is currently a free agent. Two names to possibly keep an eye on are Britton Colquitt, who was with the Browns from 2016 through 2018, and his brother, Dustin Colquitt, who was released on Monday by the Atlanta Falcons.