Browns Activate Ronnie Harrison, More from COVID-19 List Ahead of Steelers Game

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2021

Cleveland Browns safety Ronnie Harrison Jr. (33) wears a Salute to Service headband during warm-ups before an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)
Gary McCullough/Associated Press

The Cleveland Browns announced Saturday that they activated several players from the reserve/COVID-19 list ahead of their AFC Wild Card Round playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.

The Browns activated safety Ronnie Harrison Jr., tight end Harrison Bryant and linebacker Malcolm Smith. All are eligible to play Sunday.

Left guard Joel Bitonio, cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Kevin Johnson and wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge remain on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Head coach Kevin Stefanski is also on the list after testing positive. Special teams coach Mike Priefer is serving as the acting head coach.

Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot reported neither Ward nor Johnson will play, which thins out the Browns secondary significantly.

Ward will be an especially big loss, as the 2018 No. 4 overall draft pick is Cleveland's No. 1 corner and finished with a career-high 18 passes defended this season to go along with two interceptions.

Of the players who received clearance Saturday, Harrison may make the biggest impact. The 2018 third-round pick out of Alabama was acquired by Cleveland from the Jacksonville Jaguars prior to this season.

Though he missed five games, Harrison was productive, registering 38 tackles, one sack, seven passes defended and one interception, which he returned for a touchdown.

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Bryant, a rookie fourth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic, made 24 catches for 238 yards and three touchdowns during the regular season. Along with Austin Hooper and David Njoku, he gives quarterback Baker Mayfield a formidable trio of tight ends.

Smith is a 10th-year pro who played a big role this season. He made only four starts, but he appeared in 15 games and recorded 72 tackles, one forced fumble, one sack and one interception.

Smith is best known for being named MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII, as he helped lead the Seattle Seahawks to a 43-8 drubbing of the Denver Broncos to conclude the 2013 season.

The Browns, who are set to play in their first playoff game since the 2002 season, will face the Steelers at 8:15 p.m. ET at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.