NFL Browns, Saints hit by Covid-19 on eve of big games

New York (AFP) –


The Cleveland Browns, chasing their first NFL playoff berth in 17 seasons, closed their training facility Saturday for the third time in four days after a coach tested positive for Covid-19.

The Browns (10-5) entertain Pittsburgh (12-3) on Sunday needing a victory after a week of disruptions to ensure a long-sought post-season berth.

"The Cleveland Browns were informed this morning that a member of their coaching staff has tested positive for COVID-19," the team said in a statement.

"The team will continue virtual meetings as the facility is currently closed while contact tracing is conducted. We will consult with league medical professionals on the appropriate next steps."

The latest test marks the second positive result for the virus from the coaching staff this week, with wide receivers coach Chad O'Shea already ruled out for Sunday.

The Browns also closed their facility Wednesday and Thursday after positive tests and at least five players are expected to miss the Steelers game due to Covid-19 safety protocol rules, either testing positive or being in close contact with someone who has.

Multiple reports said Browns linebacker Malcolm Smith, tight end Harrison Bryant and cornerback Denzel Ward tested positive for Covid-19.

At New Orleans, the Saints will be without their entire set of running backs after star rusher Alvin Kamara tested positive for Covid-19 and all other running backs were in close contact with him, according to ESPN and the NFL Network.

Saints running backs Latavius Murray, Dwayne Washington, Michael Burton and running backs coach Joel Thomas will be unavailable Sunday against the Carolina Panthers (5-10).

The Saints (11-4) need a victory to have any chance at overtaking Green Bay (12-3) for the top seed in the National Conference and a first-round bye.