Browns’ facility still closed as team awaits tests

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BEREA, Ohio — The Cleveland Browns’ training facility remained closed Wednesday as the team and NFL continued to conduct contact tracing and wait for additional COVID-19 test results.

The Browns announced Tuesday that head coach Kevin Stefanski tested positive for COVID-19, making him unavailable for Sunday’s playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer will serve as acting head coach Sunday, and a source told ESPN that offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt is expected to call the offensive plays in place of Stefanski.

Pro Bowl guard Joel Bitonio also tested positive, Browns center and NFLPA president JC Tretter confirmed Tuesday. Wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge, defensive backs coach Jeff Howard and tight ends coach Drew Petzing were the others to test positive, a source told ESPN.

According to NFL rules, anyone testing positive for COVID-19 must sit out at least 10 days, including coaches.

Even though the training facility remains closed, the Browns continue to prepare virtually for the Steelers. A source told ESPN that the Browns also are waiting on the results of additional testing done on potential high-risk close contacts off the five positive test results.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Tuesday that there is no change to the status of Sunday night’s game at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field.

Browns star cornerback Denzel Ward, rookie tight end Harrison Bryant, linebackers Malcolm Smith and B.J. Goodson, and safety Andrew Sendejo all sat out this past Sunday’s playoff-clinching victory over the Steelers after testing positive for COVID-19. Nickelback Kevin Johnson was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list as well, a day before the game.

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