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Detroit Lions place center Evan Brown on reserve/COVID-19 list

The Detroit Lions may have to rely on their third-string center this week against the Denver Broncos.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions announced on Monday afternoon that center Evan Brown has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Brown has been serving as the team’s starting center ever since first stringer Frank Ragnow suffered a season-ending foot injury four weeks into the season. Brown, who had never started an NFL game prior to this season, had been playing well, earning a PFF grade of 69.8 over eight starts this year.

At this point, it’s unclear if Brown can return in time to play on Sunday against the Denver Broncos. If he is vaccinated, he simply needs back-to-back negative tests that are 24 hours apart. However, if he is unvaccinated, he has to be removed from the facility for at least 10 days, meaning he would not play on Sunday.

If Brown can’t play, the Lions will have to rely upon third-string center Ryan McCollum. Detroit added McCollum to the roster in early October, signing him from the Houston Texans practice squad as depth behind the injured Ragnow.

Here’s what we had to say about McCollum back when the Lions signed him two months ago:

McCollum should fit into the Lions’ zone-blocking scheme well, and his ability to play center and guard offers the team something no other reserve lineman can do—save Evan Brown who is slated for starting role. At center as a senior, he showed solid hand placement and improved pass protection, but he will need more power to his game in order to be impactful as a run blocker.

Another potential option at center is rookie guard Tommy Kramer. The former Notre Dame player actually got his first career start last week against the Chicago Bears in replacement for right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai, but he has also been cross-training at center, though he has never started a game at the position. Starting left guard Jonah Jackson also has college experience at center, but the Lions may not want to mess around with the line too much.