Update on the latest sports
Browns’ COVID-19 concerns grow with 2 more positive tests
CLEVELAND (AP) – The Cleveland Browns’ COVID-19 issues aren’t easing.
Cleveland has closed its facility and delayed practice for the second straight day after two more players tested positive for the virus as the Browns prepare for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
An NFL spokesman said the status for the game has not changed while standard contact tracing continues.
A win would put the Browns in the playoffs for the first time since 2002. The Steelers are resting several starters, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is 23-2-1 in his career against Cleveland.
Last week, the Browns were without eight players, including their top four wide receivers, in a 23-16 loss to the New York Jets that rocked Cleveland’s playoff chances. The wide receivers have continued to test negatively and are eligible to return to practice Thursday.
The Browns were getting ready to leave for the New York area last week when linebacker B.J. Goodson tested positive and the four wide receivers were ruled out because they were deemed high-rick close contacts to their teammate.
One of the new COVID-19 cases is a player who was already on the reserve list. The other player practiced Wednesday.
Cleveland also has an unidentified assistant coach who tested positive.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski is scheduled to meet with the media on a Zoom call before practice to address the virus situation.
The team has 11 players on the COVID list, including receivers Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones and KhaDarel Hodge, safeties Andrew Sendejo and Karl Joseph, linebackers Goodson and Jacob Phillips and tight end Harrison Bryant.
There are also two practice squad players on the list.
Goodson and Sendejo tested positive with the virus and will miss Sunday’s game. The others are considered high-risk contacts and could return if they continue to test negative.
Three bowl games on New Year’s Eve
UNDATED (AP) – Three bowl games are on the schedule for the last day of 2020.
Mississippi State is set to face No. 22 Tulsa and become the first Southeastern Conference team to play in the Armed Forces Bowl. First-year coach Mike Leach believes his Bulldogs are excited about playing. The pandemic-altered season allowed Mississippi State to extend a school record with an 11th consecutive bowl appearance despite having only three wins. Tulsa had won six straight before a final-play loss to undefeated Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference championship game.
No. 19 San Jose State puts its undefeated season on the line against Ball State in the Arizona Bowl. The Spartans won their first seven games and captured their first Mountain West Conference title with a win over Boise State in the championship game. San Jose State is off to its best start since the 1939 team went 13-0. Ball State is looking for its first bowl victory after winning its first Mid-American title since 1996.
Army is playing West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl because of Tennessee’s withdrawal due to COVID-19 issues. The 9-2 Black Knights were initially left out of the bowl season when the Independence Bowl was canceled. Army can notch its third season with double-digit victories in coach Jeff Monken’s seven years. The senior class already has an academy-record 35 wins. Without Monken, only one other Army team has a 10-win season. West Virginia is in its 38th bowl all-time, and the Mountaineers could win their first game this season away from Morgantown this season. These teams haven’t played each other since 1961, and Army leads the series 2-1.
The Texas Bowl, originally scheduled for Thursday, was canceled because of an increase of positive COVID-19 tests within TCU’s program. The Horned Frogs were supposed to play Arkansas in Houston.