PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers have placed cornerback Joe Haden, tight end Eric Ebron and reserve linebacker Cassius Marsh on the reserve/COVID-19 list, putting the players' status for the playoffs in jeopardy.
The move also leaves the AFC North champions further depleted for their regular-season finale in Cleveland on Sunday. The Steelers (12-3) are already assured of finishing no worse than third in the AFC while Cleveland (10-5) can end an 18-year playoff drought with a victory.
The team announced quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, outside linebacker T.J. Watt, defensive end Cam Heyward and center Maurkice Pouncey will not make the trip to give them additional rest ahead of the postseason. Kicker Chris Boswell and safety Terrell Edmunds are also out due to injury.
Mason Rudolph will start at quarterback in place of Roethlisberger with J.C. Hassenauer likely filling in for Pouncey at center. Matthew Wright will kick for Boswell, who will miss his third game in a month with hip/groin issues. Justin Layne or Cam Sutton could fill in for Haden at cornerback.
To provide some depth, the Steelers promoted offensive tackle Anthony Coyle and wide receiver Deon Cain to the active roster and elevated tight end Kevin Rader and Wright from the practice squad as COVID-19 replacements.
Per NFL COVID-19 protocols, a player placed on the reserve list due to contact tracing can return after five days provided they continue to test negative. A player who tests positive for the novel coronavirus but does not show symptoms needs to wait 10 days to return to football activities or test negative twice within a 24-hour period. A player who tests positive and is symptomatic must wait at least ten days from the time symptoms first appeared, and at least 24 hours since he last experienced symptoms before returning to football activities.
The Browns have been dealing with COVID-19 issues of their own. They were unable to practice most of the week and will be down at least five players and three assistant coaches.
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