The Steelers will expand their COVID-19 testing protocol as the team enters the postseason as part of a league-wide initiative to help attempt to mitigate the impacts of coronavirus-related absences during the NFL Playoffs, Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday.
Tomlin explained that the Steelers are expanding their testing available to friends and family of players in order to help keep players safe from community spread of the virus.
“We are expanding testing availability to those around us, friends and family, in an effort to continue to isolate this group: spouses, significant others, children, etc.,” Tomlin said. “But that is a global initiative that is being provided to all that are in the playoff field.”
Other changes will include increased mitigation procures during team travel, something the Steelers will likely avoid for now. Their first playoff game is at home on Sunday and their second game will either be at Heinz Field once again or they will make the short trip to Buffalo, New York.
“I know from a protocol standpoint, there are added precautions regarding travel,” Tomlin said. “I’m not going to get into the minutia of that. I think those are global things and so that information will be readily available. We are not splitting the atom over here in that regard but we are exited about any information or anything we can glean from the NFL office in an effort to keep this group clean or more clean in these circumstances.”
The Steelers have not had any of their games postponed this season due to outbreaks of their own accord. Twice, due to issues with the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers had their schedule adjusted.
The Steelers currently have one player that is isolating after a positive test in cornerback Joe Haden. He will miss Sunday’s game. Tight end Eric Ebron and linebacker Cassius Marsh are quarantined until at least Thursday.
The Browns have far more substantive current issues, with five individuals testing positive on Tuesday, including head coach Kevin Stefanski. Eight Cleveland players missed last Sunday’s game while on the COVID-19 reserve list. It’s unclear if Cleveland will be able to practice on Wednesday as scheduled.