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NFL postpones three Week 15 games due to COVID-19 surge

A surge in COVID-19 cases across the NFL and United States as a whole has resulted in the postponement of multiple Week 15 games.

The league announced Friday that Saturday's game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Cleveland Browns has been moved to Monday, while Sunday's meetings between the Washington Football Team and the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Seattle Seahawks and the Los Angeles Rams have been moved to Tuesday.

Raiders-Browns will air exclusively at 5 p.m. ET on NFL Network. Washington-Eagles and Seahawks-Rams will air at 7 p.m. ET on FOX.

"We have made these schedule changes based on medical advice and after discussion with the NFLPA as we are seeing a new, highly transmissible form of the virus this week resulting in a substantial increase in cases across the league," the NFL announced in a statement.

"We continue to make decisions in consultation with medical experts to ensure the health and safety of the NFL community."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to all 32 teams explaining Friday's changes to the schedule.

"The emergence of the Omicron variant is precisely the kind of change that warrants a flexible response," Goodell wrote in a memo obtained by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero.

Cleveland has seen a significant amount of positive COVID-19 cases since it last took the field Sunday, with more than 20 players currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Backup quarterback Case Keenum joined starter Baker Mayfield on the list after testing positive Thursday. Nick Mullenswill start for the Browns if neither Mayfield or Keenum can return from the reserve/COVID-19 list in time for a game that will now take place Monday. Head coach Kevin Stefanski and running backs coach Ryan Cordell are also currently unavailable because of COVID-19.

The Los Angeles Rams are also dealing with a significant COVID-19 outbreak, placing nine players on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday to bring their total of players on the list to 21, with four more on the practice squad reserve/COVID-19 list. Linebacker Von Miller was the most notable addition Thursday. L.A. then added four more players to their COVID list Friday.

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey missed Monday night's win over the Cardinals due to a positive test. Receiver Odell Beckham landed on the list Tuesday.

Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke ended up on the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday following a positive test. Backup Kyle Allen is already on the reserve/COVID-19 list, prompting Washington to sign Garrett Gilbert off the Patriots' practice squad. Washington also signed Jordan Ta'amu to the practice squad this week, where he joined Kyle Shurmur, the expected starter if Heinicke and Allen are unable to play Tuesday. The Football Team currently has more than 20 players in COVID-19 protocol.

The NFL on Thursday announced updated protocols, which include fully vaccinated players being allowed to return from quarantine a day after testing positive provided they produce two negative tests within 24 hours and are also asymptomatic.

The updated protocols also included changes to interaction between coaches, players and others in team facilities, prohibiting in-person meetings for Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals (including coaches and players) unless they are held outdoors or in the team's practice bubble with physical distancing included. Masking is also required indoors for all players and staff, including in the weight room, regardless of vaccination status. Restrictions on activity outside the facility have also increased, prohibiting Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 staff and players from public appearances or team- or player-organized charity events and gathering in groups of more than three individuals outside of the facility.

The updated protocols came as a response to a change in the COVID-19 landscape and are intended to "address the increase in cases and the advent of the Omicron variant." NFL Network's Judy Battista reported Wednesday that roughly 100 players recently tested positive for COVID-19 over a three-day span. Thirty-two players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Friday alone. The continued increase in placement of players on the reserve/COVID-19 list reflects this spike in positive tests.

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