- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 4, 2020

With cornerback Marlon Humphrey receiving a positive test for the coronavirus on Monday and seven defensive players heading into self-isolation as close contacts, Baltimore Ravens’ practices have had a different look this week.

What that means for the Ravens ahead of Sunday’s matchup with the Indianapolis Colts, though, is tough to predict. On one hand, with eight players missing from the field there will be gaps to fill during practice. But those gaps mean opportunities for the players who are out there.

And while the seven close contacts — which include Matt Judon and Tyus Bowser — could be cleared to return Saturday and play in Sunday’s game, a week without practice for key defensive pieces lends itself to its own measure of uncertainty.

So given the unpredictability of the week — all kicked off as a result of Humphrey’s positive test — coach John Harbaugh is keeping things as normal as possible. Or at least, as normal as he can in the year 2020.

“[Practice] won’t really be any different at all,” Harbaugh said. “Same number of reps, same process. We’ll just move guys around to different spots. It’ll create some opportunities for a few younger guys, and then also, the way we organize our defense for some guys to play some different spots. So you look at it as an opportunity to create versatility within your defense.”

Humphrey, who played in Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, took a  coronavirus test before the game, but the result didn’t come back until Monday morning.

Harbaugh said the NFL handled much of the contact tracing undertaken after the positive test. That resulted in five linebackers needing to self-isolate for five days: Judon, Bowser, Patrick Queen, Malik Harrison and L.J. Ford. In addition, two defensive backs went on the COVID-19 reserve list: DeShon Elliott and Terrell Bonds.

Of the eight players on the list, seven could be cleared to return Saturday and travel to Indianapolis if they exhibit no symptoms and don’t test positive for the coronavirus in the meantime. Harbaugh hasn’t heard any discussions of a potential postponement of the game, either.

When safety Chuck Clark found out about Humphrey’s positive test, his first reaction was to hope his teammate would be all right. And then his scope widened, hoping one positive test wouldn’t put the health of more team members at risk.

While he thought the lightened load of players to choose from in practice might take some getting used to, Clark didn’t see it as too much of a challenge, though.

“It’s honestly just opportunity for younger guys and other guys who are just not starters right now to even be able to get out there,” Clark said. “Communication is all the same. We’ve been doing that, working on that in the weeks prior, too, just in case something like this were to happen. That’s just what this 2020 season is. We know that any given week, we could be down a key player or key players.”

For the seven players missing practice this week, they can still watch film and participate virtually in meetings. They have workout regimens to complete at home in the hopes of staying fit and ready to play Sunday.

How well they’ll be prepared for that matchup with the Colts — if they’re cleared for it — remains to be seen. But it isn’t worrying Harbaugh.

“You see guys who sometimes they don’t practice all week, and then they come out and play the best games of their careers, you know, and other guys struggle and they might miss something,” Harbaugh said. “It’s just impossible to predict that. I don’t spend a lot of time being anxious about that because it’s really kind of a waste of time.”


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