UPDATE: Left guard Joel Bitonio and wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge are the two players who tested positive for COVID-19. per Tom Pelissero. Hodge has been getting work, but his absence won’t be nearly as impactful as losing starting lineman Bitonio against the Steelers fierce pass rush.
#Browns LG Joel Bitonio is a three-time Pro Bowler who has spent his entire seven-year career in Cleveland, playing for five different head coaches and enduring six losing seasons (including 1-15 and 0-16). They finally make the playoffs ... and Bitonio is out with COVID. Brutal.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 5, 2021
The Cleveland Browns haven’t been to the playoffs in two decades and now their head coach, two assistant coaches and two players will miss their Wild Card game due to positive COVID-19 tests, per the team.
The Cleveland Browns were informed this morning that Head Coach Kevin Stefanski, two additional members of the coaching staff and two players have tested positive for COVID-19. Our facility is currently closed while contact tracing is taking place. The team will continue to consult with the league and medical experts to determine the appropriate next steps as the health and safety of our players, coaches, staff and the entire community remains our highest priority.
Our contingency planning calls for Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer to serve as the acting Head Coach.
Since these cases are all positive tests, Coach Stefanski and the rest will need to be quarantined for ten days and will not be able to participate in the game. Of course, the absence of the two players that are positive could either impact the game greatly or not at all, depending on their position and where they stand on the depth chart. But they will be without their head coach, who will be replaced by Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer, but OC Alex Van Pelt will likely call the plays, per Mike Garafolo.
There will likely be more information coming out soon, which will will update here.