After a whirlwind of positive COVID-19 tests over Monday and Tuesday, the Kansas City Chiefs received good news on Wednesday. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the team had no new positive tests.
Source: No new positives for the #Chiefs today. The team has been hit hard by COVID-19 in recent days, but no new casees today.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 22, 2021
At the time of this writing, the Chiefs still have 13 players who had been on the active roster on their Reserve/COVID-19 list, including linebacker Willie Gay Jr., wide receiver Josh Gordon and defensive tackle Chris Jones — who missed last week’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers — and kicker Harrison Butker, cornerback Charvarius Ward and tight end Travis Kelce (who were added to the list on Monday). Tight end Blake Bell, linebacker Nick Bolton, cornerback Rashad Fenton, wide receiver Tyreek Hill, offensive linemen Kyle Long and Lucas Niang and safety Armani Watts were all added to the list on Tuesday.
The Chiefs also have three players currently on the practice squad Reserve/COVID-19 list — wide receivers Gehrig Dieter and Daurice Fountain and linebacker Darius Harris. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers — the Chiefs’ Week 16 opponent set for this weekend — placed two players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday.
The #Steelers placed OT Zach Banner and LB Marcus Allen on COVID-19 list.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 22, 2021
So long as the Chiefs players on the list can “test out” of the COVID-19 protocol in time for Sunday, they should be able to play against the Steelers. Since the league changed COVID protocols this past weekend, the testing threshold to return is now lower than it had been — so long as the given player is vaccinated and asymptomatic.
As ESPN’s Kevin Seifert noted, “there are now a series of new combinations of single negative tests and cycle threshold (CT) readings that can, in theory, have a player back as soon as one day after a positive test.”
Still, a return after a single day feels very optimistic. Even though they were on the list before the Chiefs’ game last Thursday, Gay, Gordon and Jones have still yet to be activated. Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was activated after four days, but that has seemed to be more the outlier than the norm.
It remains to be seen if the league keeps the Steelers-Chiefs matchup on Sunday after rescheduling three Week 15 games because of COVID outbreaks.
The Chiefs not having any new positive tests on Wednesday is a step in the right direction. The testing of vaccinated players will determine how many players the Chiefs get back.