On Sunday, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin advised Jay Glazer of FOX Sports that the Steelers did not have any positive tests for COVID-19 on Saturday and that he “want[s] to play [the Ravens] on Tuesday.”
That appears to be the league’s plan as well, “provided there’s not a new outbreak w Ravens,” notes Glazer, who says Baltimore plans to return to its facility on Sunday evening for conditioning—and then hold a walkthrough on Monday.
But if another member of the Ravens organization tests positive, “they will not gather later today as planned.”
Pittsburgh Steelers/Baltimore Ravens COVID-19 Update
It’s not surprising that Tomlin and Steelers want to get the home half of their season series against the Ravens behind them. Per Jeff Zrebiec, senior staff writer for The Athletic, Baltimore will soon have 22 players on its Reserve/COVID-19 list, not to mention 10 players on injured reserve or other injury lists.
Among them are most of the best players on their team. Zrebiec notes that the Ravens had 13 Pro Bowlers last year, but “by day’s end, only 4 will be on their active roster.”
Postponing the game to a Week 18 would only give the Ravens a chance to get healthy.
Never mind the fact that the contest has already been postponed twice, first from Thanksgiving night to Sunday afternoon, and then from Sunday to Tuesday night.
Of course, the Steelers will also be somewhat compromised on Tuesday evening. Pittsburgh currently has five players on its Reserve/COVID-19 list, including running back James Conner and defensive end Stephon Tuitt. The Steelers will also be short two assistant coaches, namely special teams coordinator Danny Smith and quarterbacks coach Matt Canada.
As for the idea of the Steelers putting an emergency QB in a bubble (to prevent a Denver Broncos situation), Brooke Pryor of ESPN said the team “might not” be doing that, but Tomlin says they have “brought in a kicker to the 5-day testing protocol in case they need to bring him up last minute….”
This makes sense, especially with the Steelers scheduled to play Washington just five days after the Ravens game. In fact, the Steelers appeared to be thinking about adding backup specialists to the practice squad as far back as November 18th, when the team worked out two placekickers. (Then on November 24th the Steelers signed a linebacker with a long snapping background.)
Baltimore Ravens Under Investigation, New England Patriots Fined for Protocol Violations
Meanwhile, on Sunday morning Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that the Ravens (and Denver Broncos) are under investigation for COVID-19 protocol violations. This is no surprise; on November 25th, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported that the Ravens proactively disciplined a staff member, perhaps in an attempt to minimize or avoid punishment from the league.
In other COVID-19 violations news: According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the New England Patriots have been fined $350,000 for incidents dating back to October, while the New Orleans Saints were fined $500,000 and lost a seventh-round draft pick for a “mask-less locker room celebration.”
It appears the Saints received the especially harsh penalty because they are repeat protocol violators. That kind of punishment ought to make the Steelers wary of incurring another penalty. Keep in mind that Mike Tomlin was fined $100,000 and the organization was fined $250,000 for Tomlin’s failure to wear a mask throughout the team’s 28-24 win over Baltimore on November 1st.
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