BEREA, Ohio — The Browns have been in a constant state of flux this week, with multiple positive COVID-19 tests causing them to shut down practices for two consecutive days. However, they did get some much-needed good news on Thursday.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed wide receivers Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and KhaDarel Hodge have all been activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list along with linebacker Jacob Phillips.
All five players missed last weekend's game after being identified as "close contacts" of linebacker B.J. Goodson, who is believed to have tested positive for the virus.
The team did not find out about the status of the six total players until the day before last Sunday's game against the New York Jets, causing them to adjust on the fly and bring up some players from the practice squad.
While Stefanski and others did not make excuses, it certainly played a role in Cleveland's 23-16 upset loss.
Stefanski says all five players will practice Thursday, provided the squad is allowed to return to their Berea facility after pausing activities due to two more positive tests.
Assuming all goes well, they will be available for Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which the Browns almost certainly need to win to make the playoffs.
The head coach is confident his team will be able to follow protocols and avoid an outbreak of the virus, adding they have done so "outside of one incident," referring to the matter that landed the aforementioned five players on the list.
"We've worked really hard to keep everybody safe," Stefanski told reporters Thursday. "I think that speaks to the guys' ability to follow the protocols."
Goodson, tight end Harrison Bryant, and safeties Karl Joseph and Andrew Sendejo remain on the COVID-19 list as of Thursday afternoon. While Goodson is likely out, the status of the other three for Sunday is officially unknown, although multiple media outlets report Bryant and linebacker Malcolm Smith were the ones who tested positive for the virus on Thursday and that they will miss the game along with Sendejo. Defensive coordinator Joe Woods did confirm Smith will be out.