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Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey tests positive for COVID-19, won’t play Sunday vs. Colts

"We're in the intensive protocol the NFL puts in place with a positive [COVID-19] test. We're going through all the protocols to a 'T,' said Harbaugh.

Ravens All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not play in Sunday’s road game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Humphrey announced the diagnosis Monday morning. He missed Wednesday’s practice with an illness but returned to practice Thursday and Friday and played in Sunday’s 28-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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“We were informed early this morning that a Ravens player has tested positive for COVID-19. He immediately began to self-quarantine, and our organization is now in the NFL’s intensive protocol,” the Ravens said in a statement.

“In coordination with the league, we have started the process of contact tracing and are following the guidelines of intensive protocol. The health and safety of our players, staff and community continue to be our highest priority. We will continue to work closely with the NFL and our team doctors and will follow their guidance.”

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Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the team held virtual meetings Monday and will do so for the rest of the week while continuing to hold practice in preparation for the Colts. Players and coaches will be required to wear a mask or face shield at practice while the team is under intensive protocol.

The team will remain in intensive protocol until Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, gives the green light to return to normal protocol.

The NFL, which has had to reschedule about a dozen games this season for COVID-related reasons, has yet to announce any changes to the Ravens' game, scheduled for 1 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium. Several other NFL teams reported positive tests Monday, providing new concerns for a league trying to complete the season amid a pandemic.

The Green Bay Packers reported that a player tested positive for COVID-19, and Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury confirmed that two Cardinals tested positive over the weekend. In addition, the Browns conducted meetings remotely Monday after a player reported that he is experiencing “COVID-19-related” symptoms.

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“We’ve prepared for this. We’ve had a plan in place. ... We plan to have a great week of preparation. And we plan to be ready to play the game on Sunday,” Harbaugh said Monday at his weekly news conference.

Humphrey is the first Ravens player to test positive for the coronavirus since the start of the 2020 regular season. The Ravens placed practice squad safety Nigel Warrior on the reserve/COVID-19 list in late July as training camp opened. The team also placed defensive tackle Brandon Williams on the reserve list one day before its Week 6 game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Williams did not test positive for COVID-19 and was activated from the reserve list the following week.

The Ravens officially placed Humphrey on the reserve/COVID-19 list Monday evening, opening a spot on the 53-man roster. The list was created for players who either test positive for the coronavirus or have been exposed to someone who tested positive.

Humphrey continued to test negative for COVID-19 all through last week, Harbaugh said, which is why he returned to practice and played Sunday after sitting out Wednesday. While players are now subject to PCR testing on game days, which identifies active infections, the results of the tests are typically not available until the next day.

Harbaugh, who said he learned of Humphrey’s diagnosis Monday morning, said the Ravens have done a “great job” avoiding potential high-risk scenarios outside the team facility. “Our guys have, to my understanding, basically gone home” after work, he said. The NFL has deemed indoor venues such as night clubs and bars as “high risk" and has prohibited players from eating out at restaurants while on the road.

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. One Baltimore restaurant that Humphrey posted from, Monarque, announced this weekend that it had temporarily closed because a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

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,” said Harbaugh, who was not asked about Humphrey’s off-field behavior specifically and was not available to comment further after his conference Monday afternoon. “There’s just a lot of factors involved. I don’t think we’d want to be accusatory in any way.”

Harbaugh said he didn’t have an update on whether Humphrey was showing symptoms. If a player is asymptomatic, he can return after 10 days have passed since the initial positive test or after five days have passed since the initial positive test and the player receives two straight negative PCR virus tests at least 24 hours apart.

If a player is symptomatic, he can return after at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared and at least 72 hours have passed since he last experienced symptoms. Harbaugh indicated Monday that Humphrey is in the “10-day window.”

The Steelers on Monday announced that all their test results from Sunday came back negative. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the incubation period for the virus has a median time of four to five days from exposure to the onset of symptoms. The NFL and the NFL Players Association have been utilizing daily testing for players since training camp opened and agreed to game-day testing starting Week 6.

Contact tracing could force multiple players and coaches to self-isolate in the coming days if they were found to be in close contact with Humphrey. Harbaugh expressed confidence that this would not be the case, but added, “It’s 2020, so we’ll take it as we find it. But I will say that the way we’ve kind of gone through this is we’ve done our absolute best to adhere to every protocol.”

Humphrey’s absence is another blow to a secondary that entered the season as one of the league’s strongest and deepest units.

The team lost top slot cornerback Tavon Young to a season-ending ACL injury in Week 2, forcing Humphrey to return into the nickel position. Cornerback Anthony Averett is on the injured reserve with a shoulder injury but is expected to return in a few weeks. Second-year player Iman Marshall suffered a season-ending knee injury in training camp. Jimmy Smith has played in a hybrid defensive back role and will likely start at outside corner opposite Marcus Peters.

With Humphrey on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the team has just three healthy corners on its 53-man roster: Smith, Peters and undrafted rookie Khalil Dorsey, who has yet to play a defensive snap this season.

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Second-year cornerback Terrell Bonds was promoted from the practice squad for Sunday’s game and played 17 snaps but struggled at times in coverage. NFL teams can promote practice squad players to the game day roster twice and have them revert to the practice squad without clearing waivers. The Ravens could opt to sign Bonds, who has already used the two allotted call-ups, to their 53-man roster. The team also has fourth-year cornerback Nate Hairston signed to the practice squad.

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“We’re just going to approach it like we’re business as usual, in a different type of way, and we’ll go to work,” Harbaugh said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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