NFL updates protocols in response to COVID-19 cases
UNDATED (AP) — The NFL has updated its protocols in reaction to an increase in COVID-19 cases around the league, and it is pushing booster shots as the most effective protection against the coronavirus. As part of its protocol changes, the NFL is requiring masks regardless of vaccination status, and remote or outdoor meetings. It also is stopping in-person meals, and prohibiting outside visitors while on team travel. Chief medical officer Allen Sills cited the omicron strain for the uptick in positive tests.
The league is also making some changes to its protocols that would allow vaccinated players who test positive to return sooner.
COVID-19 has hit the NFL hard this week. Approximately 100 players across the 32 teams have tested positive.
Elsewhere around the NFL:
— A person familiar with the situation tells the AP that Browns backup quarterback Case Keenum, who was slotted to start Saturday with Baker Mayfield sidelined after testing positive with COVID-19, has also tested positive for the virus. Keenum’s positive result came after he practiced on Thursday, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team may have more confirmed cases. The Browns are scheduled to host the Las Vegas Raiders, but have been overrun with positive cases this week. Cleveland placed eight players on the COVID-19 reserve list Tuesday and six more Wednesday, including Mayfield.
— The Washington Football Team has placed three more players on the COVID-19 list, following eight yesterday. The team total is now 21, including two players on injured reserve and two on the practice squad. Safety Sam Curl was the only starter added to the list Thursday. He was joined by centers Keith Ismael and Tyler Larsen. Curl joins fellow defensive starters in lineman Jon Allen and cornerback Kendall Fuller on the list. Washington could be down to its fifth option at center because of coronavirus and injury problems. Washington plays the Eagles Sunday in Philadelphia as both teams battle for a wild-card spot in the jumbled NFC.
— Seattle might be without one of its stars, receiver Tyler Lockett, when they visit the Rams on Sunday. Lockett was put on the COVID-19 list today along with running back Alex Collins. Lockett has a team-high 62 receptions for 1,023 yards and six touchdowns. Last week Lockett became the second player in franchise history with three straight seasons with at least 1,000 yards receiving, joining Hall of Famer Steve Largent. The Seahawks had no players test positive in the 2020 season but have had three this year. Tight end Gerald Everett was the other in September.
— The Chicago Bears were missing all three of their coordinators because of COVID-19 protocols Thursday as they prepared for Monday night’s home game against the Minnesota Vikings. Bears coach Matt Nagy said offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, defensive coordinator Sean Desai and special teams coordinator Chris Tabor were participating remotely in meetings this week. Their status for the game is uncertain. Chicago has put five players on the COVID-19 reserve list since Monday and have six on it overall, plus the three coordinators.
— Cleveland tight end David Njoku was activated from the COVID-19 list, adding a playmaker heading into Saturday’s game against Las Vegas. On Wednesday, the virus shelved coach Kevin Stefanski and quarterback Baker Mayfield, whose status for this week remains in question. The Browns had 17 players, including 10 starters, on the COVID-19 list and are placing safety Ronnie Harrison there. Starting safety James Johnson III and nickel back Troy Hill both tested positive on Wednesday.
— Saints coach Sean Payton returned to practice on Thursday after staying home on Wednesday, when the team said the coach was “under the weather,” but had tested negative for COVID-19. Payton participated in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday morning without mentioning he’d be missing practice later that day.
— Miami rookie receiver Jaylen Waddle’s sensational season could be on hold. Waddle has been placed in the coronavirus protocol. The sixth overall draft pick already set a franchise record for receptions by a rookie with 86. He has 849 yards receiving and four touchdowns. The Dolphins host the Jets on Sunday.
— Researchers have diagnosed former NFL receiver Vincent Jackson as suffering from stage 2 chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Jackson was found dead in a Florida hotel room in February. He played 12 seasons with the San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before retiring in 2018. Jackson, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, was 38 when he died.. The late player’s family has released the findings of a study conducted by the Boston-based Concussion Legacy Foundation’s brain bank in hopes of raising awareness of CTE and the risks of the disease.
Len Hauss, 5-time Pro Bowl center for Washington, dies at 79
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former NFL offensive lineman Len Hauss has died. He was 79.
Hauss was a five-time Pro Bowl selection at center during a 14-year football career with Washington. He started every game over the last 13 seasons he was in the league. His daughter, Lana Hauss Snyder, said Hauss died Wednesday at a Georgia hospital after an extended illness.
Hauss played in the NFL from 1964 to 1977, starting 194 of 196 regular-season games. He played in the Super Bowl after the 1972 season.
Bruins put 3 more players in COVID-19 protocol, no fans for Montreal tonight
UNDATED (AP) — The Boston Bruins have placed forwards Anton Blidh and Trent Frederic and goalie Jeremy Swayman in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.
With the number of coronavirus cases and game postponements rising across the league, the addition of Blidh, Frederic and Swayman gave the Bruins six players in the protocol. Coach Bruce Cassidy, who tested positive Nov. 30, just rejoined the team on Monday.
Tonight, the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers will play in an empty Bell Centre at request of Quebec public health officials. The Canadiens made the announcement about two hours before puck drop that Quebec public health officials had requested that no fans attend the game. The team says in a statement it accepted the request “in order to help ensure the safety and security of our fans and fellow citizens.” The Canadiens said there will be an update on the status of Saturday’s game against the Boston Bruins, who currently have a six players in COVID-19 protocol.
Missing 7 due to coronavirus protocols, Nets sign Galloway
UNDATED (AP) — The Brooklyn Nets, missing seven players because of the NBA’s coronavirus protocols, have signed veteran guard Langston Galloway to a 10-day contract.
The Nets have nine players listed as out on their injury report for their home game Thursday against Philadelphia, leaving them with the minimum eight required to start a game. So they brought in Galloway, who spent last season with the Phoenix Suns. He has played for five teams in seven NBA seasons.
Starters James Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre’ Bembry are all in health and safety protocols, along with Bruce Brown, Paul Millsap, Jevon Carter and James Johnson.
In other NBA news:
— Zion Williamson has received a biologic injection that is meant to promote bone healing in the area of his right foot that he fractured this past offseason. The Pelicans, who announced the new treatment for the face of the franchise on Thursday, say Williamson will be “limited to low-impact, partial weight-bearing activities for an extended period.” The Pelicans say another round of imaging on Williamson’s foot is expected in four to six weeks to measure his progress. The Pelicans have struggled without Williamson this season. New Orleans next plays Friday night at home against Milwaukee.
COLLEGE SPORTS-GAME CANCELED
No. 15-Ohio St-No. 21 Kentucky men’s game canceled by COVID
UNDATED (AP) — This weekend’s men’s basketball showdown between No. 15 Ohio State and No. 21 Kentucky in the CBS Sports Classic has been canceled because of positive COVID-19 results within the Buckeyes program.
The Wildcats are still scheduled to travel to Las Vegas and are working with Classic officials to find a possible replacement for Saturday to fill the void.
It’s unclear whether fourth-ranked UCLA’s game Saturday against North Carolina in Las Vegas will be impacted after the Bruins had to cancel Wednesday’s home game against Alabama State due to COVID-19 protocols.
On the women’s side, No. 19 Kentucky’s nonconference game against Morgan State has been postponed because of COVID-19 issues within the Bears’ program.
In other college sports news:
— Michigan State All-America running back Kenneth Walker is skipping the Peach Bowl and his senior season to enter the NFL draft. Coach Mel Tucker says he supports the decision. Walker is a Tennessee native who transferred from Wake Forest after his sophomore season and helped Tucker’s turnaround. Michigan State won two games last year but 10 this time around. The 11th-ranked Spartans will face No. 13 Pittsburgh in Dec. 30 bowl game in Atlanta.
— Fifth-year senior quarterback Myles Brennan has decided to exit the transfer portal and return to LSU under new head coach Brian Kelly. Brennan’s decision comes about a week after 2021 LSU starting quarterback Max Johnson announced his intention to transfer.
Freddy Galvis signs 2-year deal with Japan’s SoftBank Hawks
UNDATED (AP) — Veteran MLB infielder Freddy Galvis has signed a two-year deal with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japanese baseball.
The club in Nippon Professional Baseball confirmed the length of the contract with The Associated Press but declined to give financial details.
Galvis played for the Philadelphia Phillies and Baltimore Orioles in the 2021 season. The shortstop has also played for the San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays and the Cincinnati Reds. Last season marked his second stint with the Phillies.
In other baseball news:
— The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired former Milwaukee assistant Andy Haines as hitting coach. Haines replaces Rick Eckstein, who was fired in August. Haines spent the last three seasons as the hitting coach in Milwaukee before being let go in October. Haines joins one of the worst offensive teams in the major leagues. The Pirates finished last in the majors in runs, home runs and slugging percentage in 2021 and in the bottom six in batting average and on-base plus slugging on their way to a third straight last-place finish in the NL Central.
Woods said to be ‘crazy good’ as he prepares for golf return
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Tiger Woods is getting ready to return to some form of competition and the early reports are encouraging. The father of Justin Thomas says he played with Woods last week. Mike Thomas says it was crazy how well and how far Woods was hitting it considering what he has gone through. The PNC Championship comes 10 months after Woods broke bones in his right leg and ankle and foot in a February car crash in Los Angeles. Justin Thomas says Woods probably has set low expectations for himself. He’ll be allowed to ride in a cart if he chooses.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.