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NFL Testing Partner Blames Contamination for False Positives, 77 Test Negative

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The NFL’s COVID-19 testing partner BioReference Laboratories has identified an “isolated contamination” as the cause for the elevated number of positive test results among NFL players and staff this weekend.

According to Jon R. Cohen, M.D., Executive Director of BioReference Laboratories, their investigation “indicated that these were most likely false positive results, caused by an isolated contamination during test preparation in the New Jersey laboratory.”

Cohen also announced that all 77 players and staff members in question have since tested negative, meaning those held out for precautionary reasons this weekend can return to the practice field.

The Pittsburgh Steelers held six players out of practice on Saturday evening, which general manager Kevin Colbert confirmed was part of league COVID-19 protocols. Running back James Conner and defensive end Stephon Tuitt were the two most notable players to be sidelined on Saturday, but their absences have not explicitly been explained as related to the testing snafu.

The team has not had to place a player on the COVID-19 reserve list since removing and activating running back Jaylen Samuels back on Aug. 13.

Pittsburgh was not alone in being disrupted by this weekend’s testing issues, as the Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns and New York Jets also faced similar challenges.

NFL

NFL Considering Making Roughing the Passer Reviewable

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The NFL is considering making roughing the passer calls subject to replay review, according to NFL.com’s Judy Battista.

Battista reports that owners are expected to vote on the potential rule change at the annual league meetings later this month.

There is no denying that roughing the passer calls have become increasingly questionable over recent years, as the league continues to emphasize the protection of its most valuable assets – the quarterbacks.

Still, the concept does conjure painful memories of 2019, when the league tried reviewing pass interference calls. The experiment proved to be an unmitigated disaster, and was scrapped after a single season.

While the new role could remedy some of the infuriating calls the Pittsburgh Steelers defense has been levied with in recent year, the chance could also open up an unintended can of worms.

Reviewing roughing the passer calls is not the only potential rule change the owner will reportedly consider.

According to Battista, owners will also discuss switching overtime back to sudden death, creating an alternative to the onside kick and voting on a rule reportedly proposed by the Buffalo Bills to delay coaching and general manager interviews until the conference championship round.

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NFL Insider John Clayton Predicts Steelers Could Cut Joe Haden, Vince Williams

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John Clayton, one of the longest tenured NFL Insiders, offered a prediction on how the Steelers will handle their roster in the coming weeks during his weekly appearance on 93.7 The Fan.

When referring to player cuts around the NFL, Clayton said he expects many notable players to be released by their current teams. Clayton proclaimed “it will be a bloodbath around the league” and that could include a couple key veterans being handed their walking papers by the Steelers.

Joe Haden and Vince Williams could both be forced to find new teams as soon as next week, according to Clayton. Haden has spent the past 4 seasons in Pittsburgh after spending his first 7 years with the Browns. Williams has played his entire 8-year NFL career with the Steelers after being drafted in the 6th round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

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J.J. Watt Explains Cardinals Signing on Adam Schefter’s Podcast

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Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt joined The Adam Schefter Podcast on to discuss his decision to sign with the NFC West’s Arizona Cardinals. 

While he had numerous suitors across the league, Watt says he was drawn to Arizona by the promise of young quarterback Kyler Murray and his familiarity with defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.

“All the signs pointed there,” Watt said. “There’s a ton of exciting young talent here. In this league you need a quarterback to have a chance, and they’ve got a very talented young quarterback, who can continue to take the next step. Defense, I’m very familiar with Vance Joseph, who was with me down in Houston with Wade Philips early in my career.”

Watt believes the Cardinals are a team on the cusp of greatness, and that he is the piece to finally put them over the top.

“I think it’s just a team ready to grow and take that next step,” Watt added. “You look at the last three years, they’ve continued to increase win totals every year and are on that trajectory. And I’m looking to help fast track that trajectory.”

Schefter also asked Watt if it was ever realistic he would join his brothers T.J. and Derek with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The star defensive end demonstrated his elusiveness, avoiding addressing the idea head on.

“There was a lot of thought given to every single scenario,” he said. “So we could really sit down and look through all the options and speak with all the teams and gather all the information we possibly could. And there were definitely a lot of great options, there were a lot of opportunities to play. But at the end of the day, I’m very, very excited to be here in Arizona.”

The Cardinals now boast one of the league’s top pass-rushing tandems, pairing Watt alongside elite edge rusher Chandler Jones, who has 97 career sacks.

Arizona had the fourth-most sacks in football last season before Watt’s arrival with 48.

Watt exits Houston as one of the greatest players in franchise history. He was selected to five Pro Bowls, named First-Team All-Pro on five occasions and earned three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.

A future Hall of Famer, Watt is the Texans’ all-time leader in sacks (101), tackles-for-loss (172) and forced fumbles (25).

Watt recorded 52 total tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown last season.

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