The NFL has not needed to adjust its schedule since Week 7, though Division I-FBS certainly has. But more teams are dealing with COVID-19 issues over the past several days. Here is the latest on this NFL season’s defining subject:
The Chiefs asked the NFL and NFLPA to conduct an investigation after a recent meeting involved a union rep speaking to the entire Chiefs roster without wearing a mask, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The unnamed union rep is not subject to the same testing the players are, which prompted the Chiefs’ concern after the meeting, Schefter adds (on Twitter). The NFLPA has addressed this matter, per Terez Paylor of Yahoo.com (on Twitter).
Iman Marshall tested positive for the coronavirus Thursday, Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com reports. He becomes the second Ravens defensive back to test positive in two weeks, following Marlon Humphrey. The latter’s positive test resulted in several Baltimore defenders missing each Ravens practice last week. Marshall, however, cannot play this season due to the Ravens placing him on IR in August. The Ravens announced the infected player, without identifying him, had no high-risk close contacts among the team. Humphrey is no longer on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list.
Kendrick Bourne‘s positive test decimated the 49ers‘ receiving corps last week, but an NFL investigation found the team to be compliant with COVID-19 protocols. They will not be punished, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. As for Bourne, he has endured a complicated several days. After testing negative twice and being removed from the 49ers’ reserve/COVID-19 list, he tested positive again and was back on it Monday. He has tested negative this week, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. If Bourne were cleared to make the trip to New Orleans, he would do so after missing most or all of this week’s 49ers practices.
The NFL placed the Eagles in its intensive COVID protocols after a coach tested positive, Tim McManus of ESPN.com notes. While Philadelphia’s facility remains open, all Eagles meetings this week will be conducted virtually.
The Ravens have signed veteran defensive tackle Justin Ellis, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (via Twitter). Ellis was a regular member of the Raiders’ D-line since Oakland selected him in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, and he even landed a three-year, $15MM contract with the Silver-and-Black in March 2018. But his 2018 season was marred by injury, and he was released with an injury settlement in October.
And while Baltimore scored its fifth straight win on Sunday, its defensive front was noticeably shaky, perhaps because starting DT Michael Pierce played just three snaps. Pierce exited the game against the Bengals with an ankle injury, and head coach John Harbaugh said that an MRI didn’t reveal any long-term concerns. But as Jeff Zrebic of The Athletic writes, Harbaugh was non-committal as to whether Pierce would be available for this Sunday’s crucial matchup with the Texans, instead calling Pierce’s status “day-to-day.”
In addition to Ellis, the Ravens are adding another free agent DT, Domata Peko, as Zrebiec tweets. The Ravens, who are intimately familiar with the long-time Bengal’s work, attempted to sign him earlier this season, but the two sides were unable to agree on terms at the time. Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reports that Baltimore will pay Peko $1MM for the remainder of the season (Twitter link).
Neither Ellis nor Peko are likely to create much of a pass rush in the interior of the line — which Baltimore could really use — but like the Ravens’ earlier additions of linebackers Josh Bynes and L.J. Fort, both are experienced veterans who understand their assignments and who should, if nothing else, solidify the run defense. That will be essential given Pierce’s uncertain health and the fact that the Ravens are putting rookie DT Daylon Mack on injured reserve, per Zrebiec.
Baltimore, at 7-2 and in first place in AFC North, is doing everything it can to keep the second-place Steelers at bay while pushing for a postseason bye. Zrebiec says the club is expected to add rookie CB Iman Marshall to the active roster this week, and given that the Ravens’ kickoff and punt coverage teams have been uncharacteristically unsteady, Marshall may be asked to bolster those units.
In a corresponding move, the Ravens have waived return man Cyrus Jones, per Zrebiec. Jones muffed a punt in the team’s win over the Patriots in Week 9, and Baltimore signed De’Anthony Thomas shortly thereafter. Thomas operated as the kickoff and punt returner on Sunday and will presumably remain in that role moving forward.
It doesn’t sound like MattRyan will be out for long. Falcons coach Dan Quinn said the veteran quarterback will start when the team returns from a bye in Week 10 (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). The coach also said Ryan would likely play this weekend if the team had a game.
Ryan suffered an ankle injury that forced him to miss Sunday’s game, the first time he’s been forced out of the lineup in a decade. The quarterback missed a pair of games during the 2009 season due to turf toe.
With the Falcons sitting at 1-7, it wouldn’t be shocking if the Falcons were a bit cautious with Ryan. On the flip side, the organization gave the quarterback more than $100MM in guaranteed money last year, and the veteran has still been plenty productive this season.
Let’s check out some more injury notes from around the NFL…
We heard earlier today that SamDarnold was set to play through his thumb injury, and the Jets quarterback elaborated on the issue. Darnold referred to the ailment as a “pain-tolerance thing … I should be fine,” according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini. Coach Adam Gase previously said that this is an injury Darnold will have to play through for the rest of the season.
Seahawks tight end EdDickson will practice this week, coach Pete Carroll told reporters (via ESPN’s Brady Henderson). Carroll added that Dickson is unlikely to make his season debut on Sunday The veteran has missed the first half of the season as he’s recovered from a knee injury. With WillDissly out for the season, the offense will surely welcome back the tight end.
Vikings wideout JoshDoctson is set to return from injury this week, he told Darren Wolfson of 5Eyewitness News in Minny (via Twitter). The Redskins released the former first-rounder back in September, and he caught on with the Vikings soon after. The 26-year-old didn’t get into a game with Minnesota before landing on the IR with a hamstring injury.
Ravens cornerback TavonYoung underwent neck surgery, according to coach John Harbaugh (via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic on Twitter). Young suffered a neck injury prior to the season and was placed on IR. The 25-year-old signed a three-year, $25.8MM extension with Baltimore back in February. Meanwhile, rookie cornerback Iman Marshall returned to practice on Monday.
The Packers, as of this writing, have four draft picks under contract – sixth-round cornerback Dexter Williams and seventh-round linebacker Ty Summers signed their deals, following the lead of the club’s first roundpicks.