Browns HC Kevin Stefanski Tests Positive for COVID-19 Before Week 15 vs. Raiders

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVDecember 15, 2021

Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
AP Photo/David Richard

The Cleveland Browns announced Wednesday that head coach Kevin Stefanski tested positive for COVID-19.

The team noted that Stefanski, who is vaccinated and has received a booster shot, is "feeling fine" amid self-isolation:

Cleveland Browns @Browns

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Stefanski will require two negative COVID-19 tests between now and Saturday in order to coach in Saturday's game between the Browns and Las Vegas Raiders. If he is unable to produce those results, the Browns announced that special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will serve as acting head coach.

The Browns entered into the NFL's enhanced mitigation protocols for COVID-19 on Tuesday after several players tested positive for COVID.

In all, the Browns placed eight players on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, including six from the active roster in wide receiver Jarvis Landry, tight end Austin Hooper, offensive tackle Jedrick Wills, guard Wyatt Teller, defensive end Takkarist McKinley and guard Drew Forbes.

The placement of the Browns' players on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday and Stefanski testing positive Wednesday comes on the heels of the NFL announcing that 36 players across the league were placed on the COVID list Monday.

Notably, Stefanski tested positive for COVID-19 last season just days before Cleveland's AFC Wild Card Round playoff game against the AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

Stefanski had to watch the game from home in isolation, while Priefer served as the acting head coach and led the Browns to a 48-37 victory.

The Browns were making their first playoff appearance since 2002, and the win was their first postseason triumph since 1994.

Cleveland has struggled through an up-and-down 2021 campaign, but after gutting out a win over the Baltimore Ravens last week, the Browns are tied with the Cincinnati Bengals for second place in the AFC North, just one game behind the Ravens.

The Browns are also one of five teams in the AFC with a 7-6 record, all of whom are tied for the final two wild-card spots in the conference.

Saturday's game is significant for the Browns in keeping their playoff hopes alive, especially since the Raiders are only one game behind them at 6-7.

While being without the reigning NFL Coach of the Year could adversely impact the Browns provided Stefanski is unable to get cleared in time, potentially being without two of their leading receivers and offensive linemen may be an even bigger concern for the team.