The Thanksgiving night game between the Ravens and Steelers has been switched to Sunday afternoon because of coronavirus issues with Baltimore.
The NFL announced the move Wednesday, placing the game at 1:15 p.m. Eastern on NBC. Previously, it was scheduled for NBC’s prime-time telecast on Thanksgiving Day.
Baltimore placed outside linebacker Pernell McPhee on the reserve/COVID-19, joining running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins, and defensive tackle Brandon Williams. The Ravens also have been doing team work virtually.
The Ravens said later Wednesday they had disciplined a staff member, reportedly a strength coach, for not obeying league protocols.
’'We appreciate the NFL for its diligence in working closely with us to ensure the well-being of players, coaches and staff from both the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers organizations,” the Ravens said in a statement.
“Protecting the health and safety of each team, in addition to our communities at large, is of utmost importance. We will continue to follow guidance from the NFL and its medical experts, as we focus on safely resuming preparations for Sunday’s game.”
The game — assuming it is played on Sunday — means the Ravens will trade one short week for another. They are scheduled to play Dallas on Thursday, Dec. 3.
There will be no fans allowed for the Ravens game.
This isn’t the first time the Steelers have been forced to adjust their schedule because of COVID-19 issues with opponents. Their trip to Nashville on Oct. 4 to face the Titans turned into an unexpected bye week when Tennessee was hit with an outbreak.
The tweak forced the Steelers to play 13 straight weeks to end the regular season. They had hoped for at least a mini-break by playing on Thanksgiving — the franchise’s first-ever home game in Pittsburgh on the holiday — and then getting the weekend off before starting the home stretch.
Instead, they find themselves adjusting on the fly once again.
Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster wasn’t exactly thrilled with the development.
“First the NFL takes away our bye week because another team can’t get their Covid situation together, now they take away our Thanksgiving primetime game for the same reason. Smh,” he posted on social media.
The silver lining for Smith-Schuster is that it gives him a few extra days for the right leg he tweaked during a freak play in Jacksonville — when he twisted his leg after stepping on a penalty flag — to get ready for the Ravens.
Coach Mike Tomlin has praised his team’s ability to stay light on its feet in adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic as part of its success. The Steelers were hit with their own COVID-19 scare earlier this month when tight end Vance McDonald tested positive following a victory over Dallas, forcing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and a handful of teammates to self-quarantine before facing the Bengals. Roethlisberger ended up playing and throwing four touchdowns in an easy victory.
Roethlisberger shrugged on Tuesday when asked if it was right for the Steelers to face the Ravens without Baltimore being able to practice as a precaution.
“This is just an unusual year when it comes to everything we have to do, that everyone has to do. We saw it early, obviously, with the Titans game, byes, all these kinds of things,” he said. “What are you going to do? You just have to do what they tell you and go play ball.”
Cowboys’ Paul dies
Cowboys strength coach Markus Paul died Wednesday, a day after being taken to the hospital after experiencing a medical emergency at the team’s facility. He was 54.
The team said the cause of death was pending.
Paul was in his third season with the Cowboys after previous being a strength and conditioning coach with the Saints, Patriots, Jets and Giants. Paul was part of five Super Bowl championships, three with the Patriots and two with the Giants. The former NFL safety played for the Bears (1989-93) and Buccaneers (1993).
“The loss of a family member is a tragedy, and Markus Paul was a loved and valued member of our family,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.
Tagovailoa has injured thumb
Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was limited in practice with a previously undisclosed injury to the thumb on his throwing hand. Tagovailoa was sacked six times before being pulled in the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s loss at Denver. After the game, coach Brian Flores said Tagovailoa was healthy, and said the switch to veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick was made in an attempt to give the offense a spark. Flores also said Tagovailoa remained his starting quarterback. The Dolphins play the winless Jets on Sunday … Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, who has missed the last two games, was also limited in practice Wednesday, but there’s hope his injured throwing shoulder might be healed in time to play Sunday. “We’re taking this day by day,” coach Adam Gase said. “Things are trending in the right direction, but we’re going to take this one day at a time.” … The Jaguars are going with quarterback Mike Glennon against the Browns on Sunday, giving the journeyman his first start in more than three years. Coach Doug Marrone made the announcement Wednesday, three days after he considered benching rookie Jake Luton during a 27-3 loss to unbeaten Pittsburgh. Luton completed 16 of 37 passes for 151 yards and four interceptions against the Steelers … The Texans will be without several players, including receiver Randall Cobb, because of injuries on Thursday against the Lions. The team announced that Cobb (toe) and fellow receiver Kenny Stills (quadriceps), defensive tackle P.J. Hall (knee/shoulder), and fullback Cullen Gillaspia (back) wouldn’t make the trip to Detroit … Bengals running back Giovani Bernard was held out of practice because of a concussion.