On Monday the Pittsburgh Steelers placed tight end Vance McDonald on the team’s COVID-19 list.
On Tuesday morning that list got longer as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and three other Steelers players were added to the Reserve/COVID-19 list. The other three players are: Reserve offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins, backup running back Jaylen Samuels and inside linebacker Vince Williams.
According to the team’s statement, “the players will need to pass COVID-19 tests throughout the week before they are potentially eligible to play against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.”
The players in question are permitted to take part in virtual meetings.
Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger at ‘High-Risk’
According to Brooke Pryor of ESPN, Roethlisberger hasn’t tested positive for the virus but has been deemed a “high-risk contact.” As such, he “must be isolated for five days after his last interaction with [Vance] McDonald.”
Being placed on the COVID-19 reserve list this morning doesn’t necessarily preclude Roethlisberger from starting against the Bengals on Sunday.
As noted by ESPN Senior NFL Insider Adam Schefter, if he passes all COVID-19 tests this week, he could come off the list on Saturday and play on Sunday. However, like Vince Williams and the other Steelers players on the COVID-19 list, he would have to do so without practicing with the team, as he is not permitted in the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex until at least Saturday.
Pittsburgh can only hope that its COVID-19 situation unfolds much like what happened in Baltimore. After Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey tested positive for COVID-19 the day after the Steelers-Ravens game, Baltimore identified seven “high-risk” close contacts, six of whom came off the list by Saturday November 7th and went on to play against the Indianapolis Colts.
One key difference between the Pittsburgh and Baltimore situations, though, is that the Ravens played the Steelers at home, while the Steelers traveled to Dallas for the Cowboys game with McDonald on the flight.
But now that a very similar scenario has repeated itself twice in two weeks, it raises an important question for the NFL. What should happen when a player is reporting an illness but is still testing negative prior to gameday, as occurred with both Humphrey and McDonald. Should that player be allowed to be with his team in that scenario?
Jaylen Samuels Has Already Had COVID-19
Meanwhile, the inclusion of running back Jaylen Samuels on the COVID-19 list is particularly notable. During the summer Samuels revealed that he tested positive for COVID-19, but said he did not experience any symptoms. He was placed on the COVID-19 list on August 2 and did not come off it until August 13.
During training camp, two other Steelers players who are still on the team also spent time on the team’s COVID-19 reserve list, those being cornerback Justin Layne and wide receiver James Washington. Layne was added to the list at the end of July and Washington was added in early August.
In July, practice squad offensive lineman Jarrod Jones revealed that his father nearly died from COVID-19, but managed to pull through after spending 47 days in the hospital.
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