The Browns’ COVID-19 outbreak has widened and worsened.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield and coach Kevin Stefanski tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday and will likely miss Saturday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders as Cleveland deals with a widespread outbreak while trying to reach the playoffs.
Stefanski’s positive test was announced by the team while Mayfield’s was confirmed to the Associated Press by a person familiar with the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because testing is ongoing.
The latest positive tests came one day after the team placed eight players, including top receiver Jarvis Landry and starting offensive linemen Wyatt Teller and Jedrick Wills Jr., on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
It’s possible the Browns (7-6) could have more players missing for Saturday’s important game against the Raiders (6-7), with both teams fighting for playoff spots in the bunched-up AFC race.
Despite the outbreak in Cleveland, an NFL spokesman tells AP there’s been “no discussion of changing the game’s status.”
The league has been dealing with a major rise in cases this week. There were 65 reported cases on Monday and Tuesday, the worst two-day outbreak since the pandemic started.
Mayfield, who has been contending with injuries all season, was one of the new positive cases on Wednesday. On Monday, he and and his wife, Emily, appeared at Christmas event at a local Boys & Girls chapter.
Mayfield has played most of this season with a fracture in his left shoulder, but following Sunday’s win over Baltimore said he’s feeling better than he had in months. If he can’t play Saturday, veteran backup Case Keenum will start.
Keenum filled in for an injured Mayfield earlier this season and led the Browns to a win over Denver.
Stefanksi is vaccinated and received a booster shot, and the team said in statement he’s “feeling fine.” He’s not currently showing any symptoms and will continue to coach the team remotely this week.
The AP’s Coach of the Year in 2020, Stefanski and the other positive players will have to be asymptomatic and produce two negative tests to be eligible to participate in Saturday’s game.
Last season, Stefanski tested positive in the days leading up to the Browns’ wild-card game at Pittsburgh and was required to isolate at home. He was the AP’s Coach of the Year in his first season.
If Stefanski is out, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will serve as acting head coach for the game at Cleveland, just as he did in January’s game at Pittsburgh.
Also, acting running backs coach Ryan Cordell has tested positive.