November 28, 2021

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Fit And Go Forward

Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers game still on for Tuesday despite COVID-19 outbreak

Baltimore’s game at Pittsburgh is still on for Tuesday night and the NFL intends for it to be played, according to sources.

As of Sunday morning, there have been at least 11 Ravens players and eight staffers who have tested positive for COVID-19, sources said.

Baltimore had two new cases from Saturday’s testing as Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews and Pro Bowl outside linebacker Matthew Judon tested positive, a source told ESPN. Andrews, one of two current NFL players with Type 1 diabetes, said in early August that he was always committed to playing during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m a healthy person and I’ve worked really hard since a very young age of keeping my body in the best shape and keeping tight control of my blood sugar,” Andrews said on Aug. 10. “At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing. I’m treating myself as a normal person. If I would get COVID, it would interact just like anybody else because I treat myself like anybody else would.”

This marks the seventh straight day of positive tests for Baltimore. The Ravens haven’t had any on-field work since their facility was closed on Tuesday at noon.

When Andrews and Judon are added to reserve/COVID-19 list Sunday, the Ravens will have six Pro Bowl players from last season on the list. Quarterback Lamar Jackson, running back Mark Ingram, fullback Patrick Ricard and long snapper Morgan Cox are the others.

The eventual additions of Andrews and Judon to the reserve/COVID-19 list will mean the Ravens have 22 players on that list, who in total have accounted for 78 starts and 4,735 snaps this season.

Losing Andrews comes two weeks after tight end Nick Boyle suffered a season-ending knee injury. Baltimore is down to three tight ends, all of whom started the week on the practice squad: Luke Willson, who is questionable with an illness; Sean Culkin and Eric Tomlinson.

The NFL’s focus is on identification, isolation and containment. The effort to carry that out is why the Ravens-Steelers game was moved from Thanksgiving Day to Tuesday and why the Saints-Broncos game remains scheduled for Sunday despite the fact that Denver does not have any quarterbacks. In Baltimore, the spread was not contained; in Denver, it is.

The league does not hold up a game for a player, or group of players, to return. Instead, all of the league’s decisions have been medical decisions, not competitive ones, and have been driven by its doctors. As a result, there hasn’t been a single NFL game canceled through the first 12 weeks of the season.

The NFL Players Association was also in agreement with the decision in Denver to make the quarterbacks ineligible. The Broncos’ three eligible quarterbacks — Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles — were each deemed to be high-risk COVID-19 close contacts and none of the three can be in uniform for Sunday’s game, the team announced Saturday night.

Denver’s statement didn’t say who the players came in contact with, but sources told ESPN it was quarterback Jeff Driskel. Driskel tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday and was moved to the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list later that day.

The Broncos and Ravens are under investigation for potential discipline, per sources. Every team that has alleged COVID protocol violations gets reviewed. The NFL and NFLPA first work to control the spread, review facts and then the NFL considers discipline for any violations.

ESPN’s Jamison Hensley and Jeff Legwold contributed to this report.

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