There was much hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth among Pittsburgh Steelers fans when reports began to surface that Baltimore Ravens running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram would be eligible to play against them on Wednesday after the game was postponed from the scheduled time of the day before.
Both players tested positive for Covid-19 the previous Sunday from tests taken prior to their last game. The follow-up being pushed back one day allowed their 10-day mandatory isolation window to make them eligible to be activated from the Reserve/Covid-19 List.
Neither of them were, though only few people seemed to be surprised by this. Many players who test positive spend more than 10 days on the list, and we need only look to Pittsburgh, where both Vance McDonald and Kevin Dotson spent more than two weeks out of the picture.
Not only is simple health a factor, but so is conditioning, the opportunity to practice, travel restrictions when it comes to road games, and numerous other factors. But with the word ‘eligible’ being thrown out there, many instantly assumed that that meant they would play—and that it spoke to a conspiracy to allow the Ravens to get players back in time for the game.
It didn’t work out that way, of course, and now even a day later, Baltimore’s earliest positives from their outbreak remain on the Reserve/Covid-19 List. Head coach John Harbaugh was asked about who would be available to return and when, particularly starting quarterback Lamar Jackson—especially with Robert Griffin III getting injured.
“It’s a medical decision“, he said. “Are they physically ready to go, where it’s related to COVID, or physically ready to go play football in a game like that without any practice? Those are all the things that the doctors take into consideration”.
With the Ravens having had positive tests on 10 consecutive days, all of these groups of players will have different eligibility timelines as to when their 10-day isolation window closes. Some will be eligible to return in time for Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys. Some won’t be. Some may even miss more than one more game.
What we do know is that the Ravens are no longer in the running for the AFC North, as their loss to the Steelers resulted in their being officially eliminated for the division title, which they had won in each of the previous two seasons.
Currently, they are situated as the ninth seed in the AFC, and are one game behind the sixth and seventh seeds, tied in record with the Las Vegas Raiders, who are eighth. In other words, The Ravens would miss the playoffs if they started today. But they do hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the current seventh seed, the Indianapolis Colts. Their five conference losses, however, do them no favors.