Despite the absence of 18 players and their head coach due to COVID-19, Cleveland can still climb to No. 1 in the AFC North with a win.
CLEVELAND – Let’s try again, okay?
What was supposed to be a rare Saturday afternoon kick-off between the Browns and the Las Vegas Raiders will instead take place on an even rarer Monday afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium. The stakes remain the same – both teams are in desperate need of a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. However, now we all know why this game was postponed in the first place.
BROWNS vs. RAIDERS: overview, point spread, how to look
A coronavirus outbreak in Berea has forced the NFL to postpone action, and despite the extra time, Cleveland still has 18 members of its active list on the COVID-19 reserve list. In addition, head coach Kevin Stefanski has also tested positive for the second time in less than a year, as have several assistants.
Most notably, the Browns’ top two quarterbacks are stuck at home, so third stringer Nick Mullens leaves the practice squad to start under center. Fortunately, he is not inexperienced, posting a career record 5-11 as a starter with 25 touchdowns.
During the delay, Cleveland was able to remove offensive goaltender Wyatt Teller from the COVID list on Sunday, providing much-needed safety for Nick Chubb and the running game. The John Johnson III starting safety was also activated, but the secondary still remains without several key parts due to the virus or injuries.
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With Stefanski watching from his couch, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will serve as interim head coach, much like he did in last season’s playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt will also call the games.
Despite a somewhat disappointing 7-6 record, the Browns can actually take the top spot of AFC North with a win, as they would own the 8-6 tiebreaker at Baltimore and Cincinnati. The Raiders have lost five of six and are currently sitting 6-7, and probably need a win to have any hope of staying in the playoff race.
What follows is a full and detailed live blog of today’s action, with the most recent coins and updates closest to the top. Stay tuned for analysis all evening on 3News and WKYC.com.
4:18 p.m .: In good news, the Pro Bowl rosters were announced today, and Joel Bitonio, Wyatt Teller, Myles Garrett, Nick Chubb and Denzel Ward have all done for the Browns. That’s the most Pro Bowlers the team has had since 2013.
4 p.m .: One final time, here is the full list of Browns players currently in reserve / COVID-19 roster:
- QB Baker Mayfield
- QB Case Keenum
- RB Kareem Hunt (would have been out with an injury anyway)
- WR Jarvis Landry
- TE Austin Hooper
- OT James Hudson III
- OT Jedrick Wills Jr.
- BY Jadeveon Clowney
- BY Ifeadi Odenigbo
- DT Malik McDowell
- LB Mack Wilson Sr.
- LB Tony Fields II
- LB Jacob Phillips
- CB AJ Green
- CB Troy Hill
- S Grant Delpit
- S Ronnie Harrison Jr.
- P Jamie Gillan
Additionally, cornering Greg Newsome II will miss his second game in a row with a concussion, meaning Greedy Williams will start in his place. David Njoku, Wyatt Teller, Takkarist McKinley, Anthony Walker Jr. and John Johnson III were all activated from the COVID roster this week, and wide receiver Anthony Schwartz and tight end Harrison Bryant are also back after missing the last week’s game with injuries.
This morning, Cleveland also activated the following players on the practice squad as authorized substitutes under NFL health protocols:
- Rb john kelly
- OG Hjalte Froholdt
- BY Joe Jackson
- CB Brian Allen
- CB Herb Miller
- Jovante Moffatt
- Tedric thompson
As for the Raiders, tight end Darren Waller, linebacker Denzel Perryman and cornerback Trayvon Mullen Jr. are all inactive with various illnesses. Just before kick-off, we also learned that linebacker Will Compton will miss the game following the sudden death of his mother.