Major news out of Cleveland as the COVID-19 outbreak on the Browns team continues.
The Cleveland Browns have announced that head coach Kevin Stefanski along with left guard Joel Bitonio and wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge and two assistant coaches have tested positive for COVID-19. Special teams coach Mike Priefer will serve as the acting head coach.
This will be the Browns first playoff game since 2002 and they won’t have their head coach on the sidelines. With Stefanski out, offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt will be in charge of calling the plays.
”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,” the Browns said in a press release. “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 Team Coordinator Mike Priefer to serve as acting head coach.”
Both Bitonio and Hodge will be unavailable for Cleveland on Sunday after testing positive, according to a report by Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
Bitonio is Cleveland’s starting left guard, where he is a three-time Pro Bowl selection. Michael Dunn and Nick Harris are listed as backups at guard. Harris was a fifth-round pick from Washington this spring and has started one game this season. Dunn is a first-year pro from Maryland with one career offensive snap.
Hodge is Cleveland’s No. 5 wide receiver, but could have been in line for a larger role with Donovan Peoples-Jones suffering a concussion against the Steelers on Sunday. Peoples-Jones’ status for Sunday night is unknown.
The Browns-Steelers Wild-Card game is scheduled to take place Sunday night starting at 8:15 p.m. from Heinz Field. The league says that their is no change to the status of the game.