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Maryland football cancels third straight practice, says decision on game vs. Michigan State to come Thursday

The Maryland football program remains sidelined by a coronavirus outbreak, cancelling practice Wednesday for the third consecutive day, according to a team spokesperson.

The team has not participated in any football activities since Nov. 11, when the university announced that eight players had tested positive for COVID-19. The team was isolated to an area hotel until Sunday morning, conducting meetings virtually and in-person with masks and physical distancing, and has been unable to return to the practice field.

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The spokesperson said that a decision on Saturday’s game between the Terps (2-1) and Michigan State (1-3) at Maryland Stadium in College Park, set to kick off at noon, will be made Thursday.

Even if the players and coaches are cleared to return to practice by Thursday, they would have only Thursday and Friday to run through drills and implement plans for the Spartans, who have been practicing all week.

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Under Big Ten Conference protocols, players who test positive are required to wait at least 14 days from their initial test to undergo cardiac screening. If they are cleared, they must then navigate another seven days of practice before returning to competition. And according to the conference, a team must play at least six games to qualify for consideration for the Big Ten championship game.

“Right now, we are preparing to play,” Spartans coach Mel Tucker said Tuesday, noting that he spoke with Maryland coach Mike Locksley earlier in the day. “It’s not even crossed my mind that we’re not going to play. We’re not even thinking about that. We’re watching the tape, meeting, installing, getting ready to practice in a couple hours. We’re getting ready to go. It’s no different from any other week for us.”

Locksley said Thursday that there was no timetable for the team’s return to practice and other football-related activities until school health officials, working in conjunction with state and Prince George’s County health experts, signal a green light.

“As we all know, cases are going up across the country,” Locksley said last week. “So our football program is a microcosm of just that. Every week, we have prepared for two opponents — our football opponent and COVID. This week, we’ve got to continue to follow the lead of our medical people to mitigate and minimize the spread as we move forward.”

While announcing the cancellation of Monday’s practice, the team said that daily antigen testing could continue under Big Ten protocols and be supplemented with daily PCR testing for all players, coaches and staff. The program said Monday that it would provide an update on testing results this week, but has yet to release those figures.

The university announced last week that 1,510 on-campus PCR screening tests have been conducted for student-athletes across all sports between September 30 and November 10. Ten student-athletes have tested positive.

Fourteen Football Bowl Subdivision games have already been canceled or postponed this week, including Navy’s road game against South Florida in Tampa, the Midshipmen’s third straight that has been postponed because of coronavirus. According to the Associated Press, 77 games have been canceled or postponed by COVID-19 issues since Aug. 26.

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