OWINGS MILLS, Md. – One of the biggest outbreaks in the sport has decimated the Baltimore Ravens roster and postponed one of the NFL’s best rivalries three times.
The Ravens have moved from a preseason Super Bowl favorite to the face of the NFL’s turbulent and unpredictable 2020 season after at least a dozen players, including the reigning NFL MVP at Lamar Jackson, tested positive for COVID-19 in week 12 Players currently on Baltimore’s Reserve / COVID-19 list include seven Pro Bowl players from last season and 85 starts this season.
Baltimore has passed positive tests for nine days since Monday. The coronavirus has spread across the company, infecting players, coaches and support staff. There are at least 30 members of the organization who either tested positive or identified as high-risk close contact, a source said.
The Ravens’ Week 12 game against rival Steelers, originally scheduled for Thanksgiving night, has been postponed from Sunday to Tuesday to Wednesday.
Here’s a look at how one of the toughest weeks in the Ravens franchise history turned out to be, and where it currently stands:
Monday: November 30th: The Ravens had their training canceled by the NFL at 9:30 a.m. the day before their scheduled game in Pittsburgh, a source shared with ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The league was waiting for the results of the final tests before the players could train, a source added. The Ravens waited for most of the day, not knowing if they would train again that afternoon and get on a plane to play against the NFL’s only undefeated team. The day ended with the game between rivals AFC Nord being postponed for the third time in six days. Baltimore has not had full team training since November 20, a 10-day period.
The ravens made a statement about the final shift:
“As we continue to follow the advice of NFL health professionals and Ravens medical professionals, we are preparing for our game against the Steelers.
That evening we held a securely detached walk-through / conditioning session at the Under Armor Performance Center. The players arrived prepared to practice on the field and did not enter the locker room or the training room.
We intend to hold another walk-through meeting on Tuesday to prepare for the trip to Pittsburgh on Tuesday evening. “
Sunday, November 29th: Snead IV tested positive. He was the seventh starter on the Baltimore offensive to either test positive or identified as a close high-risk contact. This was the eighth straight day of at least one positive test for the ravens.
Saturday, November 28th: Two Pro Bowl players, Andrews and Judon, tested positive. Andrews is one of two current NFL players with type 1 diabetes. The Ravens put six more players on the reserve / COVID-19 list: Holden, LB Jaylon Ferguson, OT D.J. Fluker, DT Broderick Washington, CB Khalil Dorsey, and CB Tavon Young. The Ravens have put 18 players on the list in the past six days.
Friday, November 27th: The week 12 game between the Ravens and Steelers will be postponed from Sunday to Tuesday. In addition, Baltimore is now set to host the Cowboys at 5 p.m. ET on Monday December 7th. Will Holden, a practice player who qualified for the Ravens’ final game, tested positive. It’s the sixth day in a row of at least one positive test.
Thursday, November 26th: The ravens outbreak makes the biggest headline when Jackson tested positive. He is among the four newest Ravens players to test positive along with a staff member, a source said. The Ravens believe Jackson was infected Sunday when he took snapshots from Mekari during the game and was in close contact with Dobbins and Ingram because his locker is right next to theirs, a source said. Under the rules of the league, Jackson will be quarantined for 10 days, meaning he would miss Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh as well as Thursday night’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.
In five days, Baltimore had 12 players tested positive. Raven coach John Harbaugh told his players that in the interests of team safety, they would not return to the team facility until Monday at the earliest.
“We just want to contain this outbreak! From experience … you don’t want to catch COVID!” Wrote Campbell on Twitter. “This virus is brutal! I pray nobody else has to go through this. It’s bigger than football.”
Wednesday, November 25th: At 12:50 p.m. ET, the NFL announced that Thursday night’s game between the Ravens and the undefeated Steelers had been postponed to Sunday afternoon. This decision will be made 31 hours before the scheduled kick-off. It has since been postponed again to Tuesday evening.
That evening, the Ravens released an operational statement stating that an employee was being disciplined “for conduct related to the recent COVID-19 cases affecting Ravens players and employees.” A source confirmed that this was the strength and conditioning coach who tested positive last week and was not following the league’s COVID-19 protocols.
Ravens suspend employees for behaviorpic.twitter.com/33jaqSQ
– Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) November 27, 2020
Defensive ending Jihad Ward, who was expected to replace McPhee (who is on the reserve / COVID-19 list), tested positive. He is the eighth Ravens player to become infected. A position trainer and a support employee also tested positive.
Tuesday, November 24th: The team facility will be closed a second time at noon. By that point, the ravens had already held meetings and further training in the field, a source confirmed.
At this point, the Ravens should head to Pittsburgh the next day to attend Thanksgiving at Heinz Field. The team had chartered an additional plane to increase social distancing.
Three ravens tested positive for COVID-19 pic.twitter.com/3m9cgx0
– Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) November 27, 2020
Then three other players – the defensive end Calais Campbell, the starting center Patrick Mekari, and the backup center Matt Skura – tested positive. There’s also a report that third quarterback Trace McSorley, who was already on the list after being identified as a close contact last week, also tested positive. That brings Baltimore’s positive tests for players to seven.
Monday, November 23rd: The Ravens team facility is closed in the morning, but the NFL has authorized Baltimore to reopen in the afternoon. After virtual team and position group meetings, the team conducted a tour during which everyone wore masks.
“We all knew that we would be taking a greater risk playing football,” said Judon after the round. “We knew we [could] Obviously we got the virus and we all knew it couldn’t be messed with. “
Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, who always ended his media sessions this season with the words “stay positive, test negative”, becomes the third player this week to test positive. Brandon Williams nasal device is identified as a “high risk” close contact and placed on the reserve / COVID-19 list.
Sunday, November 22nd: Running backs J.K. Dobbins and Ingram tested positive for COVID-19 just hours after the Ravens’ 30-24 emotional overtime loss against the Titans. These are the first reported cases of the week of Ravens players involved in one of the league’s biggest outbreaks.
Thursday, November 19th: A strength and conditioning trainer for the Ravens tested positive, according to a source. He did not report any symptoms and did not always wear a mask in the team facility, the source added. To make matters worse, the trainer did not always wear his locator, which made it more difficult to identify close “high risk” contacts.