Saturday's NFL: Bills’ Norman ruled out after positive COVID test
Orchard Park, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills cornerback Josh Norman has tested positive for COVID-19 and will be one of four players and one assistant coach not traveling with the team for its game at the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
The AFC East-leading Bills announced Saturday the NFL had told them about Norman’s positive test.
The team also ruled out tight end Tyler Kroft, cornerback Levi Wallace and safety Dean Marlowe by placing them on the reserve-COVID-19 list. The three were deemed to have been in close contact with Norman.
Defensive assistant coach Leonard Johnson also will not travel with the team.
The developments deplete Buffalo’s secondary at the starting spot opposite Tre’Davious White.
Norman was in position to return after missing three straight games with a left hamstring injury. Wallace started the past two games opposite White after missing three with an ankle injury.
Buffalo bolstered its roster by elevating cornerbacks Daryl Worley and Dane Jackson, safety Josh Thomas, linebacker Darron Lee and receiver Jake Kumerow from its practice squad.
The Bills (7-2) get a break in the schedule by entering their bye week off after playing Arizona.
Ben Roethlisberger’s unexpected week off won’t stop him from starting against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Pittsburgh Steelers activated their longtime quarterback and three other teammates off the COVID-19 list on Saturday, clearing the way for Roethlisberger to be in uniform when the Steelers (8-0) host Cincinnati (2-5-1).
Roethlisberger, linebacker Vince Williams, running back Jaylen Samuels and reserve offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins were forced to self-quarantine this week after teammate Vance McDonald tested positive for the coronavirus. All four players have repeatedly tested negative, clearing the way for them to play.
The 38-year-old Roethlisberger joked that while his body enjoyed the downtime, serving as a pre-K teacher for his three children wasn’t quite as fun as playing football. Roethlisberger didn’t miss a meeting thanks to advances in technology but admitted it wasn’t the same as being on the field.
“It’s definitely different than in years past because typically when I haven’t practiced, I’ve been on the field behind the quarterbacks,” he said.
Roethlisberger was able to watch every play of practice while Mason Rudolph and Josh Dobbs took the snaps, but he was unable to talk to offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner and quarterbacks coach Matt Canada in real time. He did his best to play catchup over text and stayed engaged over Zoom but allowed there are some elements that simply can’t be replicated over video.
“There’s something to be said to, maybe I’m old school, about sitting in a meeting … when the guys are there in the same room and you’re having dialogue and you’re talking about little nuances,” Roethlisberger said.
This won’t be the first time Roethlisberger has played on Sunday despite sitting out the entire week. In November 2015 a foot injury forced him to miss practice in preparation for a game against Cleveland. Landry Jones started in his place only to leave in the first quarter with an ankle injury. Roethlisberger came off the bench to throw for 379 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-9 victory.
This isn’t quite like that. Five years ago, Roethlisberger was still able to access the team facility. Not this time, thanks to the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols. Coach Mike Tomlin, however, believes Roethlisberger should be able to play without missing a beat given his experience level.
Roethlisberger admitted he took extra precautions at home, sleeping in a different bedroom from his wife and wearing a mask both inside his house and in the car.
“You’re always nervous,” Roethlisberger said. “My wife said, ‘I don’t care if I get it, we don’t want our kid to get it.’ You always care more about your kids than you do about yourself or anyone. We’ve been as safe as we can possibly be at home.”
The Steelers also expect Williams to fill his usual spot at inside linebacker after being cleared. Newly acquired Avery Williamson filled in for Williams at practice this week.
Chubb good to go
The Browns can hand off the ball to Nick Chubb again.
Cleveland activated the star running back from injured reserve on Saturday, clearing the way for him to play Sunday against Houston after missing four games with a sprained right knee.
Chubb practiced this week for the first time since hurting his knee while blocking early in an Oct. 4 win over Dallas. The Browns (5-3) were leading the NFL in rushing when Chubb got hurt, but Cleveland’s offense hasn’t been the same without the 2019 Pro Bowler.
Chubb looked quick and made all his cuts without any setbacks this week, but coach Kevin Stefanski waited to talk to the team’s medical staff before deciding to put him back on the roster.
He will return to face a Houston defense that is allowing a league-worst 159.5 yards rushing per game.
Chubb, who ran for 1,494 yards last season, gives the Browns another needed playmaker as the team is adjusting its schemes without wide receiver and deep threat Odell Beckham Jr., who suffered a season-ending knee injury last month.
A second-round pick in 2018, Chubb ran for 335 yards and scored four touchdowns in three-plus games. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry.
With Chubb and Kareem Hunt, who won a rushing title with Kansas City in 2017, the Browns have one of the best backfield tandems in the league.
The team also elevated guard Michael Dunn from the practice squad. He’ll give the Browns some depth after lineman Chris Hubbard was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list Friday.
Hubbard had started the past three games for Wyatt Teller, who returned this week after being sidelined with a strained calf.
The Green Bay Packers activated linebacker Christian Kirksey from injured reserve Saturday and placed tight end/fullback John Lovett on IR.
Kirksey missed Green Bay’s last five games with a pectoral injury that he suffered during a 37-30 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 27. He ranks fifth on the team with 27 tackles despite having played in less than half of the Packers’ eight games.
The Packers also elevated safety Henry Black and wide receiver Juwann Winfree to the active roster as COVID-19 replacements and elevated cornerbacks KeiVarae Russell and Stanford Samuels from the practice squad.
Green Bay (6-2) hosts the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7) on Sunday.