OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- One of the biggest outbreaks in sports has decimated the Baltimore Ravens’ roster and postponed one of the NFL’s best rivalries three times.
The Ravens have gone from a preseason Super Bowl favorite to the face of the NFL's tumultuous and unpredictable 2020 season after at least a dozen players, including the reigning NFL MVP in Lamar Jackson, have tested positive for COVID-19 in Week 12. The Ravens had as many as 20 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including seven Pro Bowl players from last season and accounted for 85 starts this season.
As of Tuesday morning, Baltimore had 10 straight days of positive tests. The coronavirus has spread throughout the organization, infecting players, coaches and support staff. There are at least 30 members of the organization who have either tested positive or were identified as a high-risk close contact, a source said.
The Ravens’ Week 12 game against the rival Steelers, which was originally scheduled for Thanksgiving night, has been moved to Sunday to Tuesday to Wednesday.
Here's a look at how one of the toughest weeks in the Ravens' franchise history unfolded and where it currently stands:
Wednesday, Dec. 2: The Ravens were tested in the morning, just hours before kickoff. All tests were negative, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. So Baltimore will play a game that was originally scheduled for Thanksgiving. This ended 10 straight days of at least one Ravens player testing positive. At least 14 Baltimore players have tested positive during that time, including seven Pro Bowl players.
Tuesday, Dec. 1: Rookie safety Geno Stone tested positive along with an equipment manager, according to a source. The Ravens learned of the latest positive tests just before traveling to Pittsburgh. The team reduced the number of players on its reserve/COVID-19 list for the first time since its outbreak began on Nov. 22. Baltimore activated four players: NT Brandon Williams, QB Trace McSorley and injured CBs Tavon Young and Khalil Dorsey. The Ravens now have 16 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Monday: Nov. 30: The Ravens had their 9:30 a.m. morning practice canceled by the NFL a day before their scheduled game in Pittsburgh, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The league was awaiting results of the latest tests before allowing the players to practice, a source added. The Ravens waited most of the day not knowing whether they would practice again that afternoon and board a plane to play the NFL's only undefeated team. The day ended with the game between AFC North rivals getting moved for the third time in six days. Baltimore hasn’t had a full team practice since Nov. 20, a span of 10 days.
The Ravens issued a statement about the latest postponement:
"As we continue to follow the advice of the NFL’s health experts, as well as the Ravens’ medical professionals, we are preparing for our game against the Steelers.
This evening, we hosted a safely distanced walk-through/conditioning session at the Under Armour Performance Center. Players arrived already prepared to work out on the field, and they did not enter the locker room or training room.
We intend to hold another walk-through session on Tuesday, in preparation for traveling to Pittsburgh Tuesday evening."
Sunday, Nov. 29: Snead IV tested positive. He was the seventh starter on the Baltimore offense to either test positive or get identified as a high-risk close contact. This marked the eighth straight day of at least one positive test for the Ravens.
Saturday, Nov. 28: Two Pro Bowl players, Andrews and Judon, tested positive. Andrews is one of two current NFL players with Type 1 diabetes. The Ravens placed six more players on the reserve/COVID-19 list: Holden, LB Jaylon Ferguson, OT D.J. Fluker, DT Broderick Washington, CB Khalil Dorsey and CB Tavon Young. The Ravens have placed 18 players on the list in the past six days.
Friday, Nov. 27: The Week 12 game between the Ravens and Steelers is moved from Sunday to Tuesday. Further, Baltimore is now scheduled to play host to the Cowboys at 5 p.m. ET on Monday, Dec. 7. Will Holden, a practice squad player who suited up for the Ravens’ last game, tested positive. It’s the sixth straight day of at least one positive test.
Thursday, Nov. 26: The Ravens' outbreak creates its biggest headline when Jackson tested positive. He is among the four latest Ravens players to test positive, along with a staff member, a source said. The Ravens believe Jackson was infected Sunday, when he took snaps from Mekari during the game and was in close contact with Dobbins and Ingram because his locker is right next to theirs, a source said. Under league rules, Jackson will quarantine for 10 days, which means he would miss Sunday's game at Pittsburgh, as well as Thursday night's game against the Dallas Cowboys.
In a span of five days, Baltimore has had 12 players test positive. Ravens coach John Harbaugh told his players they wouldn't return to the team facility until Monday at the earliest in the interest of team safety.
"We just want to contain this outbreak! Speaking from experience ... you don't want to catch COVID!," Campbell wrote on Twitter. "This virus is brutal! I pray no one else has to go thru this. This is bigger than football."
Wednesday, Nov. 25: At 12:50 p.m. ET, the NFL announced that the Thursday night game between the Ravens and the undefeated Steelers was being moved to Sunday afternoon. This decision comes 31 hours before the scheduled kickoff. It has since been moved again, to Tuesday night.
That evening, the Ravens released a one-sentence statement that a staff member was disciplined "for conduct surrounding the recent COVID-19 cases that have affected players and staff at the Ravens." A source confirmed this was the strength and conditioning coach who had tested positive last week and didn't follow league COVID-19 protocols.
Ravens suspend staffer for conductpic.twitter.com/33jaqSQ— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) Nov. 27, 2020
Defensive end Jihad Ward, who was expected to replace McPhee (who is on the reserve/COVID-19 list), tested positive. He is the eighth Ravens player to get infected. A position coach as well as a support staff member also tested positive.
Tuesday, Nov. 24: The team facility is shut down a second time at noon. By that time, the Ravens had already conducted meetings and another on-field workout, a source confirmed.
At this point, the Ravens were still scheduled to leave the next day for Pittsburgh for their Thanksgiving night game at Heinz Field. The team had chartered an extra plane to increase social distancing.
Three Ravens test positive for COVID-19 pic.twitter.com/3m9cgx0— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) Nov. 27, 2020
Then, three more players -- defensive end Calais Campbell, starting center Patrick Mekari and backup center Matt Skura -- tested positive. There's also a report that third-string quarterback Trace McSorley, who was already on the list after being identified as a close contact last week, also tested positive. That brings Baltimore's positive tests for players to seven.
Monday, Nov. 23: The Ravens' team facility is closed in the morning, but the NFL authorized Baltimore to reopen in the afternoon. After virtual team and position-group meetings, the team conducted a walk-through during which everyone wore masks.
"We all knew that us playing football would put us at a bigger risk," Judon said after the walk-through. "We knew we [could] obviously get the virus, and we all knew that this wasn’t something to be played around with."
Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, who always ended his media sessions this season by saying, "Stay positive, test negative," becomes the third player this week to test positive. Nose tackle Brandon Williams is identified as a "high-risk" close contact and is put on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Sunday, Nov. 22: Running backs J.K. Dobbins and Ingram tested positive for COVID-19 just hours after the Ravens' emotional 30-24 overtime loss to the Titans. These are the first reported cases of the week involving Ravens players in what would become one of the largest outbreaks in the league.
Thursday, Nov. 19: A strength and conditioning coach for the Ravens tested positive, according to a source. He didn't report symptoms and didn't always wear a mask inside the team facility, the source added. To make matters worse, the coach didn't wear his tracing device at all times, which made it more difficult to determine "high-risk" close contacts.