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Chiefs place linebacker Anthony Hitchens on COVID-19 list

Starting linebacker Anthony Hitchens’ availability for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons is now unknown.

Kansas City Chiefs v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

According to Monday’s NFL transactions report, the Kansas City Chiefs have added starting linebacker Anthony Hitchens to the team’s reserve/COVID list.

With this, we add the standard reminder: this does not necessarily mean that Hitchens has tested positive for the novel coronavirus; players may be placed on the reserve/COVID list merely for coming into close contact with a person who has tested positive for the virus.

It doesn’t even necessarily mean Hitchens will be unavailable to play in Sunday’s Week 16 game against the Atlanta Falcons. We have already seen occasions where it appeared that the Chiefs put players on the COVID list as a precaution but returned them to the roster when their tests turned out negative — or perhaps when additional research indicated the players hadn’t been significantly exposed.

On a Monday in mid-November, the Chiefs added three offensive linemen — Eric Fisher, Mitchell Schwartz and Martinas Rankin — to the reserve/COVID list. Both Fisher and Schwartz were back on the active roster before that Sunday’s game. Rankin returned to the roster after eight days.

But when wide receiver Mecole Hardman was added to the list, it was 11 days before he returned. From mid-October through early November, fullback Anthony Sherman spent a little more than three weeks on the list.

Where Hitchens might land on this range is unknown. We expect to learn more about the situation when head coach Andy Reid meets with the media on Wednesday.