After the Steelers-Ravens ordeal closed on Wednesday afternoon, the league issued new COVID-19 protocols to ensure games can be played under as normal circumstances as possible. For those who missed out on the wild ride in Week 12, the Steelers and Ravens were originally scheduled to play on Thanksgiving Day but had their game postponed three times due to positive test results on both sides. The game was pushed from Thursday to Sunday, then to Tuesday, and then finally to Wednesday. As weird as a game on a Wednesday afternoon was, CBS’ Jason La Canfora was surprised such a thing had not already happened until this late in the season.
What’s more, that wasn’t even the craziest COVID storyline of the week. That award surely goes to the Broncos, who had to face the Saints with no eligible quarterbacks on their roster. Although the spread of positive cases was not limited to the quarterbacks, it was the most newsworthy because it forced practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton to take the offensive snaps at quarterback.
Here's how Denver got wiped out at the QB position in a 72-hour span:— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 28, 2020
QB Jeff Driskel tested positive for COVID on Thursday.
Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles did not wear masks, per a source, and were deemed high-risk close contacts today. They now are out Sunday.
Thursday night, the league sent the following memo reported by Tom Pelissero to all teams with rule changes to hopefully prevent a repeat of the last couple of days. A follow-up note from Pelissero makes it pretty clear that the specific rule changes are a response by the league to specific details of the problems seen during Week 12:
Also of note here: Players can use the weight room and fields on restricted days “provided that such areas are under video camera surveillance (which is recorded)” — a logical mandate given the nature of #Ravens’ outbreak. Everyone must wear PPE and tracking devices at all times. https://t.co/4JoaI95Sjn— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 4, 2020
The removal of the 62-player maximum on gameday attendance actually reverses an earlier policy the league had put in place for Week 12. All 32 teams were already been operating under what the NFL had called its intensive protocols since mid-November, but sometimes there are just things that are going to be tough to control as USA Today’s Jarrett Bell points out. It’s tough to know if the new restrictions will be enough, but it’s clear that business as usual will not lead to successful completion of the regular season.
Now, on to the rest of today’s Notes:
- Jack Fox is trailing Johnny Hekker in Pro Bowl voting. No, it’s not an All-Pro designation at stake, but post-season honors still matter even if it is “just” a Pro Bowl. You know what to do to remedy this injustice.
- The Athletic’s Michael Lombardi believes it’s time for Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp to put her own fresh spin on the team (subscription required).
- Lions Wire’s Jeff Risdon presents former Lions general manager Bob Quinn’s ten worst decisions. Some of the items he goes into are philosophy decisions that cover multiple moves, but among the things not making the list were the Quandre Diggs trade, cutting Travis Fulgham, or drafting any of the following players: Jarrad Davis, Will Harris, Jahlani Tavai.
- For those wondering if Beau Benzschawel would be the future backup center for the Lions, the answer apparently is no:
The #Lions have signed C Evan Brown to the practice squad, and released G Beau Benzschawel from the practice squad.— Detroit Lions (@Lions) December 4, 2020
- This week’s one-on-one chat guest with Fox 2’s Dan Miller was Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. Video of the interview is available on the station’s web site.
- For those who need something uplifting and positive, the official Lions Twitter account has you covered: