Just days before the franchise’s first playoff game since 2002, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski has tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced on Tuesday.
Two additional members of the coaching staff and two players have also tested positive for the virus and the Browns have closed their facility while contact tracing procedures take place.
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the team’s wild-card round game against the Steelers remains on as scheduled, but Stefanski and the others who tested positive on Tuesday will miss the contest. The team said in a statement that special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will serve as its acting head coach.
According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt called plays in training camp and is expected to call plays on Sunday.
“The health and safety of our players, coaches, staff and the entire community remain our highest priority,” the team said in a statement.”
In the days leading up to Cleveland’s 24-22 win in Week 17 over the Steelers, which helped the franchise lock up its first postseason berth in more than 15 years, multiple members of Cleveland’s coaching staff had tested positive for COVID-19. The team was forced to shut down its practice facility for multiple days.
According to ESPN, cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Kevin Johnson, tight end Harrison Bryant, safety Andrew Sendejo and linebackers Malcolm Smith and B.J. Goodson had all tested positive in the days leading up to last week’s game.
Stefanski is currently in his first season as the Browns’ head coach, having been the Vikings’ offensive coordinator last year.
Kickoff for this week’s Browns-Steelers playoff matchup is set for 8:15 p.m. ET on Sunday.