By WILL GRAVES, AP Sports activities Author
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers’ pursuit of an ideal season has a brand new opponent in COVID-19.
A day after NFL’s final unbeaten workforce positioned tight finish Vance McDonald on the COVID-19 checklist following a optimistic check, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and three different teammates — inside linebacker Vince Williams, working again Jaylen Samuels and offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins — joined it, making their availability for Sunday’s recreation towards Cincinnati (2-5-1) unsure.
The reserve/COVID-19 checklist is both for gamers who’ve examined optimistic or have been in shut contact with somebody who has. All gamers who’ve been in shut contact should quarantine for 5 days and are unable to go to the workforce’s follow facility, however can take part just about. They need to cross COVID-19 assessments all through the week to have a possibility to play.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin stated Tuesday it is attainable Roethlisberger and Williams might rejoin the workforce for its walkthrough follow on Saturday. He pointed to Roethlisberger’s expertise as a 17-year veteran as one of many causes he would haven’t any challenge taking part in Roethlisberger if he is cleared.
The gamers who’re capable of follow will work inside the constraints of the league’s “intensive” protocols. That features holding all pre and post-practice conferences remotely in addition to requiring gamers to make use of the load room and different companies in a rotation to restrict the variety of folks in a single room at one time.
McDonald, nevertheless, won’t be obtainable. The workforce was notified of McDonald’s optimistic check on Monday morning, hours after the Steelers beat the Cowboys to enhance to 8-Zero for the primary time in franchise historical past.
McDonald instantly self-quarantined. McDonald missed Friday’s follow with an “sickness” in response to the workforce’s damage report, however traveled to Dallas with the workforce and performed 24 snaps whole towards the Cowboys, 20 on offense and 4 on particular groups.
Tomlin defended the choice to play McDonald, saying he handed a COVID-19 check after lacking follow. The check that exposed the eight-year veteran’s prognosis was administered on Sunday, with the end result not obtainable till after the sport.
McDonald and Roethlisberger have developed an in depth relationship since McDonald’s arrival through a commerce with San Francisco on the eve of the 2017 season. Their lockers are subsequent to one another contained in the workforce’s follow facility they usually have spent a substantial period of time collectively earlier than COVID-19 hit. Whereas it is unclear if McDonald and Roethlisberger sat close to one another on the workforce airplane to and from Dallas, Tomlin identified the gamers are required to put on masks always whereas on the flight.
Backup quarterbacks Mason Rudolph and Josh Dobbs will each get reps through the week with Roethlisberger elsewhere. Tomlin stated the workforce will “play it by ear” relating to determining who would be the starter if Roethlisberger is unavailable.
The workforce had been COVID-19 free through the first half of the season, however has nonetheless been coping with the virus. Their recreation at Tennessee initially scheduled for Oct. four was pushed to Oct. 25 due to an outbreak among the many Titans. Hours after successful in Baltimore on Nov. 1, Ravens defensive again Marlon Humphrey examined optimistic, forcing the Steelers to spend final week within the league’s intensive protocol program.
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