The Pittsburgh Steelers are now the latest NFL team to face a potential outbreak of COVID-19. That became clear when tight end Vance McDonald was placed on the reserve list Monday. He’s now joined by star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, among four other players, to be placed on the COVID list.
What’s interesting here is that McDonald felt ill on Friday, but proceeded to test negative for the virus. He went on to play 20 snaps on offense against the Dallas Cowboys in Pittsburgh’s narrow Week 9 win.
As for Big Ben, the news isn’t all bad.
Steelers place Ben Roethlisberger on COVID list, quarterback tests negative
According to a later report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Roethlisberger has been placed on the COVID list due to being in close contact with McDonald.
It’s not yet known if the three other players Pittsburgh placed on the COVID-19 list, Jerald Hawkins, Jaylen Samuels and Vince Williams, have tested positive. However, all four now have to be considered questionable for Week 10’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. If all goes according to plan, they could be cleared by Saturday.
Related: NFL Week 10 schedule, predictions
Pittsburgh Steelers schedule: Could Week 10 game be moved?
Roethlisberger and his Steelers are set to take on the division rival Bengals Sunday. Based on this new information, there’s a chance that game could be moved to Monday or Tuesday.
However, it’s unlikely at this point. The San Francisco 49ers saw Kendrick Bourne receive a false positive days before their Week 9 “Thursday Night Football” matchup against the Green Bay Packers.
Bourne joined the likes of Trent Williams, Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel — four big components on the 49ers’ offense — sidelined due to being placed on the COVID list. Shockingly, the NFL opted not to reschedule that game.
NFL season and COVID-19
As for the NFL world as a whole, this is just the latest example of a potential outbreak threatening the 2020 season. We saw it earlier in the season with outbreaks within the Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots organizations.
The league itself is planning accordingly. There’s a vote on Tuesday to potentially change the 2020 NFL Playoffs, moving it to a 16-team format. That would only happen if big games had to be canceled moving forward during the regular year. At this point, the NFL has been able to prevent that.
With fewer bye weeks and windows to reschedule games as the season progresses, this has become a clear concern for the league.
All of this is happening within the broader construct of the United States. We’re seeing record high number of daily cases with experts expecting things to get worst as fall closes out and winter starts. That will impact the NFL, too.