On Sunday the Pittsburgh Steelers escaped Dallas relatively unscathed from an injury perspective, but on Monday the team announced that a player has tested positive for COVID-19.
First, Steelers Director of Communications Burt Lauten issued a statement reporting that the player in question has self-quarantined and the organization remains in the NFL’s intensive COVID-19 protocol.
Field Yates, NFL Insider for ESPN, subsequently reported that the player in question is tight end Vance McDonald. Yates’ colleague Brooke Pryor reminds us that McDonald was added to Pittsburgh’s injury report on Friday with an “illness.” But he traveled to Dallas and played 24 snaps on Sunday, catching one pass for two yards.
The scenario is reminiscent of what happened with Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey last week.
The Steelers & COVID-19
The announcement comes in the wake of Saturday’s news that a Steelers staffer tested positive for the virus.
It’s also the first since training camp that the Steelers have had a player test positive, when Pittsburgh had a total four players on its COVID-19 list at one time or another, including running back Jaylen Samuels Jr., who admitted that he tested positive for the virus after spending several weeks on the COVID-19 list in August.
Three other players—third-year wide receiver James Washington, second-year cornerback Justin Layne, and defensive back Arrion Springs—were on the COVID-19 list this summer, though it’s not clear whether any of the three actually tested positive or merely had a close contact with someone who was positive. (Springs is no longer on the team.)
The Steelers also have a player—first-year practice squad offensive tackle Jarron Jones—who nearly lost his father to the virus.
In July, Jones related how his father, who is employed as a nurse, spent 47 days in the hospital.
“It was very scary, especially when he got to the hospital,” said Jones. “He had to be put on a ventilator when he was first admitted. You look up the percentage of how many people get on the ventilator, how many make it….”
Mike Tomlin Ties Coaching Record
Meanwhile, Sunday’s 24-19 victory over the Dallas Cowboys not only allowed the Steelers to set a new franchise record for best start to a season (8-0). It also allowed head coach Mike Tomlin to tie former Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs head coach Marty Schottenheimer for the longest streak of non-losing seasons (14) to start a head coaching career.
Schottenheimer went 4-4 as interim head coach of the Browns in 1984 and didn’t have a losing season until 1998, by which point he had moved on to the Chiefs.
Tomlin has a record of 141-74-1, which ranks 22nd all-time. His charges are working to break or tie several other longstanding records this season.
For example, the Steelers have recorded at least one sack in 65 consecutive games, attempting to break the record set by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003 (69 games).
Also, if the Steelers amass 50 or more sacks this year, they would set a new franchise record for consecutive seasons with 50+ sacks (four). No NFL team has had four consecutive seasons of 50+ sacks since the 1980s.
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