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Ravens News 11/30: Inside the Outbreak and more

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens’ COVID-19 outbreak illustrates vulnerability of even NFL’s best-prepared teams to pandemic - Schafer & Oyefusi

When the Ravens returned to their facility this summer to prepare for a season with Super Bowl potential, they believed they could live up to the mantra printed for them on T-shirts: Test negative, stay positive.

The past week has shown how difficult that can be.

“We all knew that us playing football would put us at a bigger risk,” outside linebacker Matthew Judon said Monday, the first of what’s become six consecutive days of reported positive tests. “We knew we [could] obviously get the virus, and we all knew that this wasn’t something to be played around with.”

“You can’t test your way out of this,” he added. “You can’t protocol your way out of this, either. This is going to run its course.”

An overwhelming majority on that list have reportedly tested positive, including Jackson, who’s set to miss Tuesday’s game while in quarantine. Another of the Ravens’ stars, Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell, indicated Friday on Twitter that he was symptomatic, which could delay his return to team activities. He called the virus “brutal” and said he prayed that “no one else has to go thru this.”

It’s unclear what impact the team’s decision to reopen the facility had on its outbreak. But given the timing of the Ravens’ early cases, it’s reasonable to believe exposure first occurred in the lead-up to the Titans game, one public health researcher said.

Inside the outbreak: How COVID-19 hit Lamar Jackson and the Ravens - Jamison Hensley

The Ravens have gone from a preseason Super Bowl favorite to the face of the NFL’s tumultuous and unpredictable 2020 season after at least 15 players, including the reigning NFL MVP in Jackson, have tested positive for COVID-19 in Week 12. The 22 Ravens players placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week — seven of whom made the Pro Bowl last season — have totaled 78 starts and 4,735 snaps this season.

As of Sunday morning, Baltimore has now had seven straight days of positive tests. The coronavirus has spread throughout the organization, infecting players, coaches and support staff.

Thursday, Nov. 19: A strength and conditioning coach for the Ravens tested positive, according to a source. He didn’t report symptoms and didn’t always wear a mask inside the team facility, the source added. To make matters worse, the coach didn’t wear his tracing device at all times, which made it more difficult to determine “high-risk” close contacts.

Saturday, Nov. 28: The Ravens place six more players on the reserve/COVID-19 list: LB Jaylon Ferguson, OT D.J. Fluker, DT Broderick Washington, OT Will Holden, CB Khalil Dorsey and CB Tavon Young. Baltimore is in the midst of one of the biggest outbreaks in all of sports. The Ravens have placed 18 players on the list in the past six days.

Sunday, Nov. 29: Two Pro Bowl players, tight end Mark Andrews and outside linebacker Matthew Judon, added to the reserve/COVID-19 list. Andrews is one of two current NFL players with Type 1 diabetes. Baltimore has placed 20 players on this list in the past seven days. In two days, the Ravens are scheduled to fly to Pittsburgh and play the Steelers that night.

NFL says Ravens and Steelers will play Tuesday as Baltimore’s coronavirus cases continue to mount - Aaron Kasinitz

In an email, PennLive asked an NFL spokesman whether the league had considered rescheduling the game for a third time after the Ravens’ latest coronavirus cases, which marked seven straight days in which at least one player has tested positive.

“No,” the spokesman replied.

After postponing the Ravens-Steelers game from Thanksgiving to Sunday and then to Tuesday, the NFL is hopeful the spread across Baltimore’s roster will soon peter out. The team has kept its facility closed since Tuesday morning, and infected people typically test positive four to five days after contracting the virus, according to medical experts.

Owners approved a plan to push back the playoffs to create an 18th week of the regular season in order to hold games that needed to be moved because of coronavirus concerns. Another option, which appears unlikely, is for the NFL to force the Ravens to forfeit the game.

But for now, the NFL is intent on holding the game Tuesday. The league has made clear it will not postpone games because of depleted rosters — the Broncos will play the Saints on Sunday without any of their four quarterbacks available — and would only do so because of fears of the virus spreading.

Not Long Ago, Robert Griffin III Beat the Steelers With Backups - Ryan Mink

It will be Griffin’s first start since Week 17 last year when he also took on (you guessed it) the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The circumstances are much different. Last year, the Ravens had already locked up the top seed in the AFC playoffs and rested many backups against Pittsburgh’s top-flight defense, which was playing all of its starters.

Premier Steelers defenders such as outside linebackers T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree, defensive tackle Cameron Heyward, cornerbacks Joe Haden and Mike Hilton, and safeties Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds all started for Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, Baltimore used a starting offensive line without left tackle Ronnie Stanley and right guard Marshal Yanda – just like this year. The starting line was James Hurst, Bradley Bozeman, Patrick Mekari, Parker Ehinger and Orlando Brown Jr.

Despite playing the backups, the Ravens piled up 223 rushing yards and 304 total offensive yards in last year’s season finale at M&T Bank Stadium. Hill scored on an 8-yard touchdown run and Justin Tucker kicked four field goals.