Virus-hit Browns try again to end NFL playoff drought

·2-min read
Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski is having to juggle Covid-19 issues for the second consecutive week as his club chases a victory Sunday to end a 17-season NFL playoff drought

The Cleveland Browns, struck by Covid-19 as they try to snap a 17-season NFL playoff drought, closed their training facility Wednesday after two more positive virus tests.

The Browns, who were missing four wide receivers and two linebackers in a loss Sunday due to Covid-19 safety precautions, said an unidentified coach and practice squad player were the latest to test positive for the deadly virus.

The team shut down workouts until contact tracing could be conducted ahead of Sunday's regular-season finale against the playoff-bound Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3).

"We're working through that right now with the league," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. "The number one thing throughout this whole year has been player safety."

The Browns are level with Tennessee, Baltimore, Miami and Indianapolis at 10-5 for the final four AFC playoff berths, needing only a victory to reach the post-season for the first time since the 2002 campaign.

"We're well aware of what's at stake," Stefanski said. "The guys are excited about the opportunity."

The Browns, who need a win or Indianapolis loss to Jacksonville (1-14) to advance, have had to juggle their worst Covid-19 issues of the season with the long-sought playoff berth within their grasp.

"That's 2020," Stefanski said. "We're all prepared to adapt as necessary and make sure we're getting our work in."

The Browns' roster was depleted last week after linebacker B.J. Goodson tested positive for Covid-19 and forced five teammates into isolation, contributing to a 23-16 loss to the New York Jets (2-13).

Last week's close-contact quarantines -- Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, KhaDarel Hodge and Jacob Phillips -- could return Thursday if they continue to test negative, Stefanski said.

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