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Watch | Cleveland Browns fans react to head coach Kevin Stefanski, WR KhaDarel Hodge and G Joel Bitonio testing positive for COVID-19

The Browns will now be without their head coach and key players for the franchise's first playoff game in 18 years
Credit: AP
Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

CLEVELAND — News of more positive COVID-19 cases on the Cleveland Browns was certainly not what fans wanted to hear less than a week before the team's first playoff game in 18 years, and that frustration came out in comments shared online.

On Tuesday, the Browns announced that head coach Kevin Stefanski tested positive for the virus, along with two more assistant coaches, and two more players.

While the Browns don't release the names of players that test positive in these announcements, later in the day the team placed wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge and Guard Joel Bitonio on the COVID-19/Reserve list.

As the Browns look to head to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh for the ultimate playoff rematch nearly 20 years in the making, these positive COVID-19 tests mean they'll do it without several coaches and key players.

The team had already been playing without offensive line coaches Bill Callahan and Scott Peters, and wide receivers coach Chad O'Shea due to NFL COVID-19 protocol.

While Stefanski will be permitted to participate in game preparations virtually, the Browns organization said on Tuesday that the team contingency plan calls for Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer to serve as the acting head coach for Sunday's game, airing during Sunday Night Football on WKYC. Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt will call offensive plays.

Fans reacting to the news are understandably disappointed. 

A lot of people are saying as Browns fans, we should've expected something like this to happen because getting to the playoffs was already too good to be true. 

On the flip side, others want to know how this could have possibly happened. 

A few are already saying without our head coach, the game is already lost.

There have been lots of calls to postpone the Wild-card round playoff game between the Browns and the Steelers, like the NFL did several times during the regular season. 

One fan suggested that the NFL just add an extra week off  for everyone. 

But the NFL has previously said there will be no postponing of games during the playoffs.

That has fans asking if the Browns are being treated differently than other teams, with many bringing up the Baltimore Ravens delays when they were scheduled to play the Steelers over Thanksgiving. 

Others point out though, the Ravens had dozens of positive cases at one time. 

Not to mention, the Denver Broncos played without any quarterbacks this year, and the New Orleans Saints played without running backs. 

It's also worth a mention that the Browns basically played without wide receivers, during the Week 16 loss to the New York Jets. 

All of this aside, fans had a lot of questions about why the Browns have to go without their head coach.

Assuming Stefanski doesn't have symptoms, many people are asking why he can't coach virtually, calling out the fact that he doesn't actually have to be on the field to do his job.

Fans are well aware that this situation is not ideal, but there is optimism out there. 

Most of that optimism comes from focusing on the running game, with running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. 

People are saying with Chubb and Hunt on the field, the Browns can beat the Steelers, at full force.

One fan pointed out what a story that would be, to win in Pittsburgh, up against these odds.

Fans will be able to watch it all unfold on Sunday, with kickoff scheduled for 8:15 p.m., on WKYC.

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