CLEVELAND — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from a story that ran on Jan. 4, 2021.
Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski, two other coaches and two players have tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19), the team announced on Tuesday. According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, left guard Joel Bitonio and wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge are the players who tested positive and will be unable to play in the team's upcoming Wild Card round game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Browns' announcement comes two days after the Browns beat the Steelers 24-22 in their regular-season finale to end the NFL's longest active playoff drought (17 years). In what will mark its first postseason game since 2003, Cleveland is slated to play the Steelers on Sunday in the AFC Wild Card round at Heinz Field.
According to the team, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will serve as the Browns' acting head coach in Stefanski's absence.
"Our facility is currently closed while contact tracing is taking place," the Browns said in a statement. "The team will continue to consult with the league and medical experts to determine the appropriate next steps as the health and safety of our players, coaches, staff and the entire community remains our highest priority. Our contingency planning calls for Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer to serve as the acting Head Coach.”
Heading into last Sunday's matchup against the Steelers, the Browns had missed multiple practices and placed six players on the NFL's reserve/COVID-19 list due to positive coronavirus tests. Additionally, three of the team's coaches were forced to miss the game after testing positive for the coronavirus.
It remains unclear whether any of the six players who missed Sunday's regular-season finale while on the COVID-19 list -- including star cornerback Denzel Ward -- will be able to play against the Steelers on Sunday. While Stefanski will be permitted to participate remotely in game-planning for Sunday's Wild Card Game in Pittsburgh, he will be unable to coach in the actual game.
More on this story as it develops.