Virus-hit Browns try again to end NFL playoff drought

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Washington (AFP)

The Cleveland Browns, stricken by Covid-19 as they tried to break through a 17-season NFL playoff drought, closed their training facility on Wednesday after two more positive viral tests.

The Browns, who were missing four wide receivers and two linebackers in a loss on Sunday due to Covid-19 safety precautions, said an unidentified coach and a player on the practice squad were the last to test positive for the deadly virus.

The team was on hiatus from practice until contact tracing could be completed ahead of Sunday’s regular season final against the Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3).

“We’re working on that right now with the league,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. “The number one thing throughout this year has been the safety of the players. ”

The Browns are tied with Tennessee, Baltimore, Miami and Indianapolis at 10-5 for the last four places in the AFC playoffs, only needing one win to reach postseason for the first time. since the 2002 campaign.

“We are well aware of what is at stake,” Stefanski said. “The guys are thrilled with this opportunity. ”

The Browns, who need an Indianapolis win or loss to Jacksonville (1-14) to advance, had to juggle their worst Covid-19 issues of the season with the long-awaited playoff spot within their reach.

“It’s 2020,” Stefanski said. “We’re all ready to adapt when necessary and make sure we do our jobs.”

The Browns’ roster was exhausted last week after linebacker BJ Goodson tested positive for Covid-19 and forced five teammates into isolation, contributing to a 23-16 loss to the New York Jets (2 -13).

Last week’s close contact quarantines – Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, KhaDarel Hodge and Jacob Phillips – could return on Thursday if they continue to test negative, Stefanski said.

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