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NFL and players discussing potential change to COVID-19 protocols; could allow vaccinated players to return sooner

The NFL and the NFL Players Association have begun discussing potential changes to the league's COVID-19 protocols.

CLEVELAND — With seven teams -- including the Cleveland Browns -- currently in enhanced protocols, the NFL and the NFL Players Association have begun to discuss potential changes to the league's COVID-19 guidelines.

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Taking to Twitter on Wednesday, the NFLPA confirmed reports of their discussions with the league while referencing its previous call for daily COVID-19 testing for vaccinated players. In a post written ahead of the start of the season in September, NFLPA president and Browns center JC Tretter called for daily testing to continue, which had been used throughout the 2020 season.

"Transmission within our building is what kills us. When we don’t have our finger on the pulse of what is going on inside our buildings, we set ourselves up for failure, Tretter wrote at the time. "A weekly testing cadence doesn’t just increase the likelihood that the games suffer because players are missing from the field; it also increases the likelihood of a game being cancelled altogether."

Potential changes to the league's protocols may not only affect the way that the league handles testing, but perhaps also the availability of vaccinated players who test positive. According to Mark Maske of The Washington Post, the league is considering changing its protocols to allow vaccinated players who have tested positive and are asymptomatic to return to their teams sooner.

Under the league's current protocols a vaccinated player can return from the COVID-19 list after returning two negative tests 24 hours apart. Meanwhile, an unvaccinated player is required to remain on the COVID-19 list for at least 10 days after returning a positive test.

On Wednesday, the Browns placed six players, including quarterback Baker Mayfield, on the COVID-19 list, bringing its total number of players on the list to 17. The team also announced that head coach Kevin Stefanski, who is vaccinated and has received a booster shot, has tested positive for COVID-19.

The 7-6 Browns are scheduled to host the 6-7 Las Vegas Raiders at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday.

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