NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported the NFL has added a "high-risk" close-contact category to protocols that requires players in that category to isolate for five days. Pelissero noted that one or more of the players placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list by the Patriots on Saturday may be part of the high-risk group.
New England canceled practice Friday after a player reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, but the Patriots reopened their facility Saturday, per Yates.
The Patriots are scheduled to host the Denver Broncos on Sunday in a game that was originally supposed to take place last week before getting postponed as a result of the Patriots placing multiple players on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
According to Pelissero, the NFL is aware of the Patriots' situation and "comfortable" that they have followed protocol properly. As a result, Sunday's game is still set to be played as scheduled.
The Patriots previously placed quarterback Cam Newton and cornerback Stephon Gilmore on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Newton missed New England's Week 4 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, while Gilmore did not miss a game due to the postponement of the contest against Denver last week.
Both Newton and Gilmore have been activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list and are eligible to play Sunday.
Of the players placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday, Michel was already on injured reserve with a quad injury and would not have played Sunday regardless.
With Michel out again, the combination of James White, Rex Burkhead and Damien Harris will carry the backfield load for New England.
Mason is a starter, so his absence against the Broncos could cause some issues for the Pats.
Hjalte Froholdt, a 2019 fourth-round pick, will likely get the start in Mason's place. He has no NFL starts to his credit.
Rivers' absence likely means 2017 fourth-rounder Deatrich Wise Jr. will get the start at defensive end. He has appeared in 50 regular-season games and made 11 starts, so head coach Bill Belichick should be comfortable with him in that spot.
Quarterback Drew Lock will likely be back in the lineup for Denver on Sunday after missing two games due to injury, but the Broncos will be without running back Melvin Gordon and tight end Noah Fant, meaning the Pats should still be significant favorites even without a few key players.