Monday's NFL: Ravens-Steelers rescheduled again by COVID-19 to Wednesday
The Baltimore Ravens’ struggle to contain an extended outbreak of the coronavirus forced their rescheduled game Tuesday night against the unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers to be moved back to Wednesday.
It’s the third fix to a matchup originally slated to be played Thanksgiving night.
The NFL announced the most recent switch Monday after the Ravens placed starters Matthew Judon, Willie Snead and Mark Andrews on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Although Baltimore also had four players return from that list, the team will still be severely short-handed when this game is finally played.
The addition of Judon, a standout linebacker, and Andrews, the leading receiver on the team, brings to seven the number of 2019 Pro Bowl players that Baltimore has placed on the COVID-19 list over the past week.
Cornerback Terrell Bonds, who’s on injured reserve, was also added to the expansive list Monday.
There was a bit of good news, however: Baltimore activated linebacker Jayson Ferguson, offensive lineman D.J. Fluker and defensive tackle Broderick Washington from the COVID-19 list. Defensive back Iman Marshall was also activated, although he’s been on IR since tearing his right ACL in August.
The contest pitting two longtime rivals was originally scheduled for Thanksgiving night before a rash of coronavirus cases among the Ravens forced the game to be postponed to Sunday. As Baltimore continued to stack up positive tests, the game was moved back to Tuesday night.
Now, perhaps, they’ll finally meet on Wednesday in Pittsburgh. Or not.
The Ravens (6-4) will face the Steelers without several of their top playmakers, including quarterback Lamar Jackson, running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins, and defensive linemen Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams.
The loss of Andrews and Snead will further hinder backup quarterback Robert Griffin III, who will be taking snaps from a third-string center after Patrick Mekari and Matt Skura were placed on the COVID-19 list on Wednesday.
Andrews is a Type-1 diabetic, which makes COVID-19 potentially more dangerous. His loss should have an impact in that he leads Baltimore in receptions (38), yards receiving (454) and touchdown catches (6).
Also being moved, according to a person with direct knowledge of the switch, is the scheduled Week 13 game between the Steelers and Washington at Heinz Field, to Dec. 7 from Sunday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because that schedule shift had not yet been announced.
Baltimore is supposed to host Dallas on Dec. 7 as well.
Niners to play in Arizona
The San Francisco 49ers will relocate to Arizona for the next three weeks after new coronavirus regulations put in place by officials in Northern California forced the team to find a temporary new home.
The 49ers (5-6) announced they will host the Buffalo Bills next Monday night and Washington on Dec. 13 at State Farm Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals, because they won’t be able to practice or play games at home in Santa Clara County for three weeks.
A person familiar with the team’s plans also said a decision has been made to start practicing later this week in Arizona and remain based there until at least Dec. 21. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because there hadn’t been an announcement.
The team was forced to move because the rules imposed by Santa Clara County prohibit any practice or games for contact sports and will require the players to quarantine for 14 days any time they travel more than 150 miles.
Santa Clara County announced rules Saturday that include a three-week ban on practices and games for contact sports starting Monday. The Niners were on a plane getting ready to travel to Los Angeles, where they beat the Rams 23-20 on Sunday, when the players and coaches heard about the new rules.
Now they will likely head on an even longer road trip while trying to make a late-season playoff run. San Francisco is currently one game out of a playoff spot.
Punter to have tumor removed
Indianapolis punter Rigoberto Sanchez feels fortunate doctors found a cancerous tumor before it spread. So do the Colts.
Less than 20 hours after punting the ball five times in a loss to Tennessee, one of the most popular players in Indy’s locker room announced on Instagram he would have surgery Tuesday to remove the tumor.
Colts coach Frank Reich, the only person on the team who spoke to reporters, did not discuss details of the diagnosis, a timetable for Sanchez’s recovery or an expected return date. He said team officials were informed about the condition late last week, adding that Sanchez decided to play Sunday after consulting with doctors.
Sanchez did cede the kickoff duties he’s performed since making the team as an undrafted rookie in 2017 to rookie kicker Rodrigo Blankenship. But he still averaged 50.8 yards on the five punts, netting 40.4.
Afterward, Reich said he was proud of Sanchez’s performance as he dealt with a medical condition that would require further evaluation. Sanchez provided the additional details Monday.
Inside the organization, the Colts remain optimistic that the 26-year-old will be back on the field.