Jaguars plan to play Sunday after practice squad player’s positive COVID-19 test

The Jacksonville Jaguars are the latest NFL team dealing with a positive COVID-19 test.

The Jaguars said Saturday that a practice squad player has tested positive for the coronavirus. The initial result was confirmed by a second test Friday evening. The player was quarantined, and the team is reviewing contact tracing data to determine what further precautions need to be taken.

The Jaguars (1-4) host Detroit (1-3) on Sunday in Florida and plan to play as scheduled.

Jacksonville decided to hold football activities remotely Saturday as part of NFL protocols. It could benefit the team that it typically separates practice squad players from guys on the 53-man roster, creating an extra level of protection to help prevent an outbreak.

The Jaguars are the fourth NFL team to deal with COVID issues in recent days, joining Atlanta, Indianapolis and New England.

The Patriots cancelled practice Friday and later placed centre James Ferentz on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He became the fifth player on the team to test positive for the virus.

The Colts had four positive tests that came up negative upon retesting. The Falcons returned to their facility one day after abandoning it because of a second positive.

Patriots-Broncos matchup in jeopardy?

New England already twice had the original Week 5 matchup against Denver postponed following four earlier positive coronavirus tests by players, including quarterback Cam Newton and cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The game is scheduled for Sunday in Foxborough, Mass., but now could be in jeopardy.

Newton and Gilmore, the reigning defensive player of the year, returned to practice this week for the first time since testing positive for the virus. Newton missed New England’s loss at Kansas City on Oct. 5 after his Oct. 2 positive test. He was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. Gilmore, who tested positive on Oct. 7, was activated from the list Thursday. Practice squad player Bill Murray also returned from the COVID-19 list Thursday.

Defensive tackle Byron Cowart, who tested positive on Oct. 11, was joined on the list by Ferentz.

The Broncos haven’t played since Oct. 1. If they play Sunday, they’ll have had 16 days between games; one day longer than Tennessee’s layoff before the Titans beat Buffalo on Tuesday night following the NFL’s first COVID-19 outbreak, which affected two dozen members of the organization.

Denver’s layoff is the longest in the league since 2001, when the NFL postponed all games on the weekend following the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Three teams — the Saints, Steelers and Buccaneers — had byes when play resumed a week later, so they all had 20 days between games that year. Of those three, only the Steelers won in their return to action.

Indianapolis closed its practice facility, then the four retests came back negative and the building reopened.

Atlanta resumed in-person work under more stringent safety measures. The Falcons play at Minnesota on Sunday.

Falcons rookie defensive tackle Marlon Davidson was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday and a second person, who is not a player, subsequently tested positive.

The Panthers placed guard/centre Tyler Larsen on the reserve/COVID-19 list five days after he played against Atlanta.

Beckham tests negative, cleared to rejoin Browns

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. had his second negative COVID-19 test in 24 hours, clearing him to rejoin his teammates and play in Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh.

Beckham was kept away from Cleveland’s facility and didn’t practice for two days after feeling ill on Thursday and being sent home. In keeping with NFL coronavirus protocol, he had to twice test negative before being allowed back.

The league has instructed teams to remove anyone showing symptoms similar to COVID-19 even if they are caused by a cold or the flu.

The Browns listed Beckham as questionable to face the unbeaten Steelers (4-0) at Heinz Field. While he didn’t practice, the three-time Pro Bowler participated in team meetings remotely.

On Friday, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Beckham was feeling better and the team hoped he would be able to play and possibly help Cleveland get its first win in Pittsburgh since 2003.

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