- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 17, 2020

The Baltimore Ravens have confronted the coronavirus pandemic again and again this season.

An outbreak earlier in the year led to a Thanksgiving night matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers to be postponed three times. Dez Bryant, shortly before facing the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 8, was ruled out with what now appears to be a false positive — he tested negative the following few days and has since been activated off the COVID-19/reserve list.

But the Ravens have more to worry about, placing three wide receivers on the reserve list Wednesday. Marquise Brown, Myles Boykin and James Proche all were close contacts with someone who tested positive for the virus, although they haven’t tested positive themselves.

“That’s contact tracing,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday. “So, we don’t have any positive tests with those guys; hopefully, we won’t. You see it all around the league; guys are put on that list for that reason. So, there’s just a lot of that out there. They won’t be able to practice for a few days, which is disappointing, but it is a reality of what we’re dealing with this year. So, we’ll just have to deal with it. We’re hoping and praying that they don’t turn up to have it.”

Baltimore is making a push toward the playoffs, currently holding the third AFC wild card slot. On Monday night, the Ravens won a thrilling matchup with their AFC North rival, the Cleveland Browns. In that contest, Lamar Jackson exited with cramps, then returned and fired a touchdown pass late to Brown on his first play back.

Jackson then led his squad down the field one more time, setting Justin Tucker up to hit the game-winning field goal.

At 8-5, Baltimore sits in third place in the AFC North. But the Ravens have a favorable schedule remaining, meeting the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday before facing the New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals. According to FiveThirtyEight’s playoff prediction model, the Ravens have an 88 percent chance of making the playoffs.

If Brown, Boykin and Proche continue to test negative, they’ll be eligible to return off the reserve list in time to play Sunday, Harbaugh said.

• Andy Kostka can be reached at akostka@washingtontimes.com.

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