Aside from the simple fact of whether or not the game is actually going to be played, arguably the biggest question entering today’s game is whether or not a certain pair of running backs will be on the field. The Pittsburgh Steelers will already be without two of their four running backs—but will the Baltimore Ravens, as well?
Following Monday’s postponement, which pushed the game to the 10-day isolation window for Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins, a number of media outlets jumped on the fact that the game being moved would make these two players, who tested positive for Covid-19 on the Sunday before last, eligible to play on Wednesday.
As Tom Pelissero wrote on Twitter yesterday, they are “both eligible to be activated Wednesday, but it’s not a given either will play”. For starters, we don’t even know if either of them has drawn even a single negative test for Covid-19. Players who test positive must test negative twice at least 24 hours apart before they can return.
#Ravens RBs J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram are both eligible to be activated Wednesday, but it’s not a given either will play. They’ve been isolated since testing positive Nov. 22 and, as noted earlier, aren’t allowed to fly on the team plane tonight. https://t.co/mUweyW8OyT
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 1, 2020
The only other 2 Ravens eligible to return from Reserve/COVID-19 list and play tomorrow are Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins. However, I wouldn’t assume either will play just because they’re eligible. Haven’t been able to do much in 10 days now and would have to travel day of game
— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) December 1, 2020
Even outside of that fact, there are other complications toward their being available. They were not permitted to travel with the team. Players who may be activated in time for a game may travel, but they must do so separately, and must be separate from the team until they are activated.
There could also be an issue with this arrangement in the Covid-19 protocols governing travel. Section II. part f., for example, of the NFL-NFLPA Team Travel Protocol for 2020 Season states that “visiting teams will continue with the standard protocol of arriving in the game city the day prior to the game to ensure players, coaches, and Travel Party are isolated within the same lodging facility to administer any applicable screening and testing and allow for requisite gameday preparation (including hydration and rest)”.
If players on the reserve list are unable to be with their team, then they obviously can’t be isolated within the same lodging facility. Section b. also states that members of the Traveling Party who are not with the team “must receive a negative virus test result in the visiting team city prior to joining the rest of the Traveling Party”. I don’t know if a POC test is sufficient for this.
Then there’s the fact that they haven’t practiced at all in over a week. Dobbins in particular would be vulnerable to not playing because he’s a rookie. They may both be activated from reserve and active for the game, simply because they don’t have enough players, but still not actually play in the game. You can theoretically have a player active for a game despite having no intention of playing them. It’s happened before.