Browns LB Malcolm Smith and TE Harrison Bryant test positive for COVID-19, but Jarvis Landry, 4 others expected today

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Browns had to close their facility again on Thursday because linebacker Malcolm Smith and tighthead Harrison Bryant tested positive for COVID-19, but the club still hopes to get five of their close contacts back today.

Bryant has already been placed on the COVID-19 reserve list as a close contact with someone outside the building who tested positive.

That’s a total of ten players from the regular reserve list – four positive and six close contacts – but they hope to have the six contacts back in the game, including all four top receivers. The Browns also have players in the training group who are positive in center Javon Patterson and Elijah Benton, and one unknown coach.

Smith’s loss is huge, as the Browns are already without linebacker BJ Goodson, who tested positive on Saturday and also missed the Jets game.

Two other linebackers suffered ankle injuries in the game and were restricted on Wednesday: Tae Davis and Sione Takitaki.

The Browns closed their facility live for the second day on Thursday while doing contact detection and keeping thumbs up that no one else will be added to the list. Once completed, they hope to practice later in the afternoon for Sunday’s big “win-and-win” game against the Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium, like Wednesday.

The five players who were added to Goodson’s close contacts on Saturday all tested negative again on Thursday and are eligible to practice this afternoon: Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones and KhaDarel Hodge, and the linebacker Jacob Phillips.

Everyone put out Sunday’s 23-16 loss to the Jets, a game that could have locked up a playoff spot for the Browns.

On Tuesday, three more players were added to the list: Bryant and security services Andrew Sendejo and Karl Joseph. Of these three, Sendejo and Bryant are both now positive, but Joseph could likely return by Saturday as a close contact.

Patterson and an unidentified coach tested positive Wednesday. The coach will not be on the field on Sunday, but Joe Woods, the defensive coordinator, because he was taken down by the team during practice on Wednesday.

‘These days can be pretty exhausting – changing the schedule and not knowing exactly when you need to get in to practice and take in the workouts, so you just have to stay on your phone, as they tell us, and be just beware of that, ” Quarterback Baker Mayfield said Wednesday. “There is nothing we can do about it, so there is no reason to complain. You roll with the beats and have to deal with it. We are not the only ones who have to make adjustments. ”

In a conference call on Wednesday, dr. Allen Sills, NFL medical officer, said the game is not in jeopardy because there is no evidence of the transfer within the facility. Sills said the league will continue to monitor the situation.

The other good news for the Browns today, in addition to the number of players coming off the reserve list, is that the Steelers will rest more of their star players for Sunday’s game.

Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pro Bowlers TJ Watt, Cam Heyward and Maurkice Pouncey will suspend the game, in addition to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has played 23-2-1 against the Browns since 2004.

Watt leads the NFL by 15 sacks and is a leading candidate for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and Heyward led the Steelers by eight tackles in the first encounter with the Browns, a 38-7 victory for the Steelers.

Dulac reported that veterans like cornerback Joe Haden and guard David DeCastro will play, but on a limited basis.

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