Seven Ravens defensive players, including four starters, were found to be “high-risk close contacts” after cornerback Marlon Humphrey tested positive for COVID-19, and they must self-isolate for at least five days ahead of Sunday’s road game against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Ravens on Tuesday placed the following players on the reserve/COVID-19 list: outside linebackers Matthew Judon and Tyus Bowser, inside linebackers Patrick Queen, Malik Harrison and L.J. Fort, safety DeShon Elliott and cornerback Terrell Bonds.
The players were identified as close contacts through contact tracing. They will be unable to practice this week but will undergo daily testing while on the reserve/COVID-19 list. If they are asymptomatic and continue to test negative, they will be able to return for Sunday’s game.
Humphrey was placed on the list Monday after testing positive last Sunday for COVID-19 and will miss the upcoming game.
The NFL has yet to announce any changes to the game, scheduled for 1 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium. Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said Tuesday on a conference call that a postponement is only possible when the league “can’t find a common thread, can’t find a linkage and are having difficulty or unusually large number of high-risk contacts.”
The NFL sent a memo Tuesday to teams regarding updated COVID-19 protocols. The league announced in the memo that two teams that played Sunday — the Ravens and Packers — had one player test positive. The players are Humphrey and Green Bay Packers running back A.J. Dillon.
The memo noted that while neither the Ravens nor Packers players wore masks while on the sideline or in the locker room Sunday, Green Bay “was more effective in ensuring physical distancing for its players.” According to the memo, the NFL’s medical experts have concluded that mask wearing would have “significantly reduced” the number of high-risk close contacts.
The Ravens had already entered the NFL’s intensive protocol, holding virtual meetings throughout the week. Coach John Harbaugh said Monday that the team will continue to practice, starting Wednesday; players and coaches will be required to wear masks or face shields. The team facility is closed Tuesday because of Election Day.
If any of the players on the 53-man roster — Bonds is signed to the practice squad — are unable to return for Sunday’s game, the Ravens will be eligible to replace them while they remain on the reserve list. Under NFL rules, the team can sign a free agent, sign a player from its or another team’s practice squad or promote a practice squad player ahead of the game as a replacement. With the lengthy six-day onboarding process for new players and expanded practice squads this year, any replacement will likely come from the team’s practice squad.
The aftermath of the Ravens' first positive COVID-19 test this season could affect more than their depth entering Sunday’s critical game in Indianapolis. It could also result in a fine for players and the organization if they were found to be noncompliant in upholding the league’s health protocols.
On Oct. 25, the NFL fined the Tennessee Titans $350,000 for COVID-19 violations that forced the league to reschedule multiple games, including the Ravens' first game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Earlier, 10 Las Vegas Raiders players were fined a combined $165,000 after they were photographed without masks during a charity event last month.
At press conferences, before games and even occasionally during practice, Humphrey has worn a face mask this season. But in recent weeks, Humphrey’s Instagram Story feed has included video of himself at restaurants, often not wearing a mask, while dining with others who were not teammates and not masked. Instagram Story contents disappear from the user’s feed after 24 hours, but a Baltimore Sun reporter had viewed them when they were posted.
“It can happen to any of us. Any of us can be in a situation where you can just be in a circumstance where you can be exposed to it,” Harbaugh said Monday. “There’s just a lot of factors involved. I don’t think we’d want to be accusatory in any way.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Jonas Shaffer contributed to this article.