CLEVELAND, Ohio — Kevin Stefanski, who watched the Browns’ 48-37 victory over the Steelers from his basement with COVID-19, is expected back for the Chiefs game along with all or most of the others who missed the wild card game.
Stefanski, who lost his sense of taste of smell and developed other mild symptoms after initially feeling great, should be cleared for the game as long as he continues to progress. He tested positive on Tuesday, so the 10-day minimum isolation period stipulated in the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols will have expired.
The Browns had no new positive COVID-19 tests on Monday morning, which is a good way to start the week.
The players expected to return are left guard Joel Bitonio, cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Kevin Johnson, and receiver KhaDarel Hodge. Most were symptomatic, including Ward and Johnson, which is why they weren’t activated in time for the Steelers game.
The other coaches expected back are offensive line coach Bill Callahan, tight ends coach Drew Petzing and secondary coach Jeffrey Howard. Assistant offensive line coach Scott Peters tested positive on Friday and will be cutting it close from the 10-day isolation standpoint.
Most of the missing individuals participated in the locker room celebration via FaceTime on Sunday night.
“It was loud so we couldn’t hear what [Stefanski] was saying,’’ said running back Nick Chubb. “We all saw him and we all waved to him.”
Baker Mayfield was happy that all the COVID-impacted members of the organization or injured players like Olivier Vernon were included virtually.
“This is a team,’’ he said. “No matter if we’re in person or not, we know the men who we have in this building. We’re a team, we stick together and that meant a lot. To have those guys there in our celebration was great. The best thing about it was the mentality of everybody saying, ‘Hey, we did not just want to just win this game.’ Like I said last week, it is just the stepping stone to where we eventually want to go. For a lot of guys, it was a huge win – my first playoff win, for starters – but nobody here is satisfied yet.’’
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