The Cleveland Browns closed their training facility on Tuesday after learning head coach Kevin Stefanski was among five members of the organization to test positive for COVID-19.
Stefanski will be required to isolate and miss the Browns’ first playoff game in 18 years when the team visits the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night. The Browns announced that special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will serve as their acting head coach.
While the Browns did not divulge the identities of the others, multiple media outlets reported that three-time Pro Bowl left guard Joel Bitonio and wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge also tested positive. Cleveland.com reported tight ends coach Drew Petzing and defensive backs coach Jeff Howard tested positive as well.
“The Cleveland Browns were informed this morning that Head Coach Kevin Stefanski, two additional members of the coaching staff and two players have tested positive for COVID-19. Our facility is currently closed while contact tracing is taking place,” the team announced 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.”
Bitonio, who is the longest tenured player on the Browns, has started all 95 NFL games in which he has appeared. Bitonio, 29, was selected by Cleveland in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
He received the game ball from Stefanski on Sunday following the Browns’ 24-22 win over Pittsburgh.
Hodge, 26, had two catches for 25 yards against the Steelers. He returned to action after joining fellow wide receivers Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins and rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones in sitting out Cleveland’s 23-16 loss to the New York Jets on Dec. 27 after being identified as high-risk close contacts.
The Browns closed their facility on three separate days last week after learning of positive tests for COVID-19.