Browns place CB Denzel Ward on reserve/COVID-19 list; Jarvis Landry, WRs come off

The Cleveland Browns continue to deal with COVID-19 issues ahead of Sunday's pivotal matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported linebacker Malcolm Smith and tight end Harrison Bryant tested positive for COVID-19, per a source informed of the situation. Smith and cornerback Denzel Ward joined Bryant on the reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday.

The club later confirmed it had two positive tests.

"The Cleveland Browns were informed of two additional positive COVID-19 test results among our players this morning," the team said in a statement. "The Browns facility is currently closed while contact tracing is conducted to identify any high-risk close contacts. The team will continue to work remotely this morning while following the NFL-NFLPA intensive protocols as the health and safety of our team, staff and the entire community remains our highest priority."

Unlike Wednesday, when the Browns were able to get a practice in after getting through contact tracing, they kept their facility closed Thursday.

"In light of today's positive test results and after consulting with the NFL, we've decided to keep our facility closed for the day," the team said in a second statement. "As we've previously stated, the health and well-being of our players, coaches and staff is our highest priority and this decision was made with that in mind. We will continue our preparation the Steelers today remotely and hope to open our facility for practice tomorrow."

Pelissero noted that one of the Browns players who tested positive was a high-risk close contact with someone outside the building. The latest results mean at least four players -- linebacker B.J. Goodson and safety Andrew Sendejo are two others -- won't be available Sunday against the Steelers. Contact tracing and further testing will determine if any others are ruled out, too.

On the plus side for Cleveland, the club will get back the four receivers (Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones and KhaDarel Hodge) and linebacker Jacob Phillips who missed last week's game as close contacts today if practice can resume. All five players will come off the reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday, coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters.

A win Sunday against division rival Pittsburgh would get the Browns to the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

In the NFC, New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis is away from the team as a precaution due to a high-risk close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per sources informed. He is working virtually, Rapoport added.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has been working virtually this week after contact with someone outside the facility who is believed to be a false positive for COVID-19, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported, per sources. Bowles has no symptoms and negative tests, and the team expects him back before Sunday.

The Atlanta Falcons announced they will conduct business virtually today after one positive COVID-19 test from a member of the team. The team later placed center Alex Mack on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

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