The Arizona Cardinals will be without head coach Kliff Kingsbury, one of his assistants and two defensive starters against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, October 17, following positive tests for COVID-19.
Cardinals general manager Steve Keim also won’t make the trip to Cleveland as the virus spreads throughout the organization.
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FOX’s Jay Glazer broke the news of Kingsbury’s positive test on Twitter just before 5 p.m. MST on Friday, October 15.
The Cardinals followed up about five minutes later confirming that Kingsbury, quarterbacks coach Cam Turner and defensive tackle Zach Allen all will miss the Browns game after testing positive for the virus.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport later reported that Keim also tested positive for the virus and won’t travel with the team to Cleveland.
Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph and assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Jeff Rogers will share the head coaching duties against the Browns, the team announced. It remained unclear who would call the offensive plays in Kingsbury’s absence.
With the new positive tests, the Cardinals are entering the NFL’s enhanced mitigation protocols, meaning players, coaches and staff will be tested every day, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported.
The Cardinals (5-0) are scheduled to travel to Cleveland on Saturday, October 16, to face the Browns (3-2). The NFL was not considering any changes to the game following the positive tests, Pelissero reported.
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Kingsbury announced in September that the Cardinals were 100% vaccinated. Despite the vaccinations, the Cardinals have been hit hard by the pandemic this season, with 21 positive tests since the start of training camp, according to the Arizona Republic.
Kingsbury met with reporters earlier in the day to talk about the upcoming game against the Browns as well as the Cardinals’ trade for tight end Zach Ertz. After Kingsbury’s positive test was announced, Arizona Sports 98.7 FM host John Gambadoro noted that the coach at times sounded sick as he addressed the media.
Kingsbury wasn’t wearing a mask during the news conference, though all members of the media in attendance were, Gambadoro said. Now down two defensive starters, the Cardinals could activate defensive lineman Jordan Phillips, who has been on the injured reserve list since early September with a back injury, he said.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski missed a playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers last season due to COVID-19, Cardinals reporter Darren Urban noted. A pair of Cardinals assistant coaches, Steve Heiden and Rusty McKinney, also missed Arizona’s August 20 preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs, according to Urban.
Social Media Reacts to Cardinals’ COVID Woes
Members of the media and Cardinals fans alike reacted to news of the new positive tests with a mix of concern and humor.
Browns fans also weighed in: