NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills discussed a number of topics on a conference call with the media Wednesday, including Steelers-Ravens and the possibility of postseason bubbles for the NFL Playoffs.
With regards to the Ravens outbreak that caused their game with the Steelers to be rescheduled three times, Goodell told reporters that the league intended to postpone the game until the outbreak was deemed contained, which they believe took until Wednesday to be the case.
Roger Goodell says on conference call Ravens game was postponed until the NFL believed the spread of the virus was contained. Reiterates that they will play even if multiple position groups are compromised if they believe spread has been contained (like in Denver)— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) December 2, 2020
Supporting the league’s claim that the spread is under control, Dr. Sills added that they are confident there is “no active infection” amongst Ravens players and staff at Heinz Field today.
Dr. Allen Sills confirms all of the Ravens' point-of-care tests came back negative today. "Can say with confidence no active infection on Ravens sideline today," Sills said.— Lindsay Jones (@bylindsayhjones) December 2, 2020
As for the NFL Playoffs, Goodell said that the league is “considering a number of alternatives” to their traditional postseason format, including a variety of potential bubble formats.
When asked specifically about those bubbles, Goodell assured that league feels their protocols are working successfully, and apparently dismissed the idea of an NBA-style bubble in a single location.
Now Goodell throwing some cold water on the bubble idea, at least not in the sense that most people think of it, he says. Possible limit to the number of people who come into contact with players but no NBA-style lockdown: "We feel strongly that our protocols are working."— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) December 2, 2020
Instead each team would likely have their own individual bubbles in hotels, significantly further limiting outside contacts with players and staff.
Lastly, Dr. Sills affirmed that the league will not “cut the line” for a future COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. The first available vaccines will likely be designated strictly for front line workers and high-risk groups.
Dr. Allen Sills makes clear the NFL won’t “cut the line” on the looming COVID-19 vaccine. For those wondering.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 2, 2020
Baltimore Ravens Sign WR Deon Cain to Reserve/Future Contract
The Baltimore Ravens have signed former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Deon Cain to a Reserve/Future contract, the club announced Friday.
We have signed WR Deon Cain to a Reserve/Future contract.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) January 22, 2021
Cain spent the last two seasons with Pittsburgh, spending the majority of the 2020 season on the practice squad. He appeared into two games this past season, including the season finale loss to the Cleveland Browns, but recorded no stats.
Cain saw more extended action in 2019, where he appeared in six games and made three starts. He tallied five receptions for 72 yards a season ago.
A star for the Clemson Tigers, Cain was selected in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. He caught 130 passes for 2,040 yards and 20 touchdowns during his Clemson career.
Washington’s Alex Smith Beats Ben Roethlisberger for PFWA Comeback Player of the Year
Washington quarterback Alex Smith has been named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America, edging out Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
After suffering a significant leg injury in 2018 and subsequent infection that nearly took his limb, Smith made his unlikely return to the field in 2020, leading Washington to a division title and playoff appearance.
Smith passed for 1,582 yards and six touchdowns with eight interceptions, but led Washington to a 5-1 record in his six starts. He is the first Washington player to win the award since its inception in 1992.
Roethlisberger was also believed to be a worthy candidate for Comeback Player of the Year, leading the Steelers to a 12-4 campaign and AFC North title after missing the majority of 2019 with a season-ending elbow injury. The 38-year-old threw for 3,803 yards and 33 touchdowns with ten interceptions.
Running back Jerome Bettis (1997) and quarterback Tommy Maddox (2003) are the only two Steelers to have previously been awarded Comeback Player of the Year.
Smith was not the only quarterback recognized by the PFWA on Friday, as Buffalo’s Josh Allen was awarded Most Improved Player of the Year.
Allen made a remarkable jump in 2020, passing for 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns with ten interceptions. He also accounted for eight scores on the ground.
Not only were his 37 touchdowns seven more than in his first two seasons combined, but Allen also completed a career-high 69.2% of his passes, a ten percentage-point increase from a season ago.
Allen will have another opportunity to demonstrate his jump in play Sunday when the Bills visit the Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC Championship game.
Two Steelers have previously been named the league’s Most Improved Player, quarterback Kordell Stewart in 2002 and running back Le’Veon Bell in2015.
Browns’ Kevin Stefanski Named PFWA Coach of the Year
Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski has been named 2020 NFL Coach of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America, the organization announced Thursday.
Stefanski led the Browns to an 11-5 record and their first playoff win since 1994 in his first season as a head coach. He is just the second Browns head coach to win the award in franchise history, joining Marty Schottenheimer in 1986.
A loaded Browns offensive reached its full potential under the play calling and tutelage of Stefanski, finishing as the league’s third-best rushing team and committing the fourth-fewest turnovers.
Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield also took a leap forward in 2020 under Stefanski, passing for 26 touchdowns and a career-low eight interceptions. Mayfield’s 95.9 passer rating was also the best of his young career.
The Buffalo Bills also earned a pair of honors for their outstanding 2020 performance. General manager Brandon Beane was named PFWA NFL Executive of the Year, while offensive coordinator was awarded Assistant Coach of the Year.
The Bills owned the NFL’s second-ranked offense, as quarterback Josh Allen became a bonafide MVP candidate under Daboll. Allen completed a career-high 69.2% of his passes, while also tossing 37 touchdowns, seven more than through his first two seasons combined.
Beane was the mastermind behind Buffalo’s addition of wide receiver Stefon Diggs form the Minnesota Vikings, who proved one of the most successful trade acquisitions in recent memory. Diggs was named a First-Team All-Pro after leading the league with 127 receptions and 1,535 yards. He also caught eight touchdowns.