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The Browns’ coronavirus outbreak has followed them into the postseason.
The team announced on Tuesday that head coach Kevin Stefanski tested positive for COVID-19, along with two assistant coaches and two players. None will be available for Sunday’s NFL wild-card matchup with the Steelers and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will lead the team.
NFL Network reported that guard Joel Bitonio, who has made three straight Pro Bowls, and receiver KhaDarel Hodge were the players who tested positive.
The Browns have dealt with a handful of COVID-19 issues in the final weeks of the season. They played without any of their regular receivers in a Week 16 loss to the Jets after one tested positive and the rest were forced out due to contact tracing protocols.
The Browns closed their facility three times last week and were without five players on defense due to more positive tests before their must-win Week 17 game against the Steelers.
“The health and safety of our players, coaches, staff and the entire community remains our highest priority,” the team said in its Tuesday statement.
Cleveland held off a resting Pittsburgh team, 24-22, in Week 17 to secure a postseason spot, but now are dealing with a coronavirus catastrophe ahead of their first playoff game since the 2002 season.
The Browns game against the Steelers is the final game of wild-card weekend, scheduled for 8:15 p.m. on Sunday night.
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