Washington's personnel department 'working overtime' with 10 players on Covid list

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The Washington Football Team is gripped with a widening Covid-19 outbreak as it heads into the most pivotal stretch of its season, which will decide whether it makes the playoffs for the second straight year or finishes on the outside looking in.

This comes as a leaguewide outbreak led to the NFL's highest single-day positivity rate to date, with 37 players landing on the Reserve/Covid-19 list on Monday, a record high since the league began tracking these figures in 2020. In addition, a Washington staffer has the first known case of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 in the NFL.

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Star defensive tackle Jonathan Allen was among four Washington players to test positive for Covid-19 on Monday. Leading the team with 7.5 sacks and its defensive line with 45 combined tackles, Allen has been the lifeblood of a Washington defense that can sorely afford to lose him right now.

Allen's status for Sunday's game against the Eagles is, for now, in question, although as a vaccinated player, the threshold for his return is much lower than for an unvaccinated player. The team captain only needs two negative tests – at least 24 hours apart – in order to be cleared for return to practice or games.

"Well, he'll come in and test pretty soon and we've got our fingers crossed. We're hoping, but we'll see what happens," Washington head coach Ron Rivera said of Allen's status for Sunday during his weekly appearance with The Sports Junkies on Tuesday morning, presented by F.H. Furr.

"You know, there's so many things going on right now with this new virus, with this new variant, that you just don't know," he said. "So we just have to kind of hope and we'll see what happens in the next few days."

The bar to return is much higher for Montez Sweat, who is unvaccinated and has already missed Sunday's game against Dallas after testing positive last Wednesday, Dec. 8. Sweat, who is still under a mandatory 10-day isolation period, could potentially miss the next game as well. A positive test on Saturday, the end of his isolation period, would clear him to play the following day against the Eagles.

Asked if there are certain players he already knows will be out for Sunday's game, Rivera told The Sports Junkies, "Well, not necessarily. Other than Montez, no. And in fact, I shouldn't even say that, because there's a chance that if he's cleared ready to go, we'll see what happens."

For Sweat, being cleared by NFL protocol standards, and being declared ready to play by Washington's coaching staff, could be two very different things. Sweat hasn't practiced since Week 8, missing four games due to a fractured jaw he suffered that week against the Broncos. If Sweat were to miss Washington's Week 15 matchup in Philadelphia, that would mark his sixth straight game — and as many weeks of practice — missed between a jaw fracture and Covid-19.

"Yeah. Montez, I think, because he was not vaccinated, right, there has to be a 10-day waiting period," said John-Paul Flaim. "So we were kind of doing the math and wondering would he be eligible to play. And, let's just say this: He hasn't been practicing with you. Would you even put him out on the field, because he's been gone for so long?"

"Again, that's something we have to think about," Rivera said. "And again, we'll be smart because it's one of these things. I mean we've got four games left to play. We control our own destiny. Whether we get a chance to win the division or get in the playoffs, we still control it. So we'll see what happens."

Washington currently has nine players on the Reserve/Covid-19 list, eight of whom are defensive players. Five of those are defensive linemen.

(Editor's Note: See updated Covid figures at the bottom of this post.)

Defensive end William Bradley-King, who was activated from Washington's practice squad as a Covid-19 replacement on Sunday against Dallas, was himself placed on the Reserve/Covid-19 list a day later, on Monday, along with tight end Temarrick Hemingway. Linebacker David Mayo also tested positive.

Washington has already added three players since Sunday, claiming center/guard Jamil Douglas off waivers from Buffalo on Monday, and signing defensive end Nate Orchard from Green Bay's practice squad and defensive tackle Hercules Mata'afa to its own practice squad on Tuesday afternoon.

The full list of players currently on Washington's Reserve/Covid-19 list (along with the days/dates they were added):

DE Montez Sweat (Wednesday, Dec. 8)
LB Khaleke Hudson (Friday, Dec. 10)
CB Darryl Roberts (Saturday, Dec. 11)
DE James Smith-Williams (Saturday, Dec. 11)
DE Casey Toohill (Sunday, Dec. 12)
DT Jonathan Allen (Monday, Dec. 13)
LB David Mayo (Monday, Dec. 13)
DE William Bradley-King (Monday, Dec. 13)
TE Temarrick Hemingway (Monday, Dec. 13)

"Our personnel department's working overtime and credit to them," Rivera said. "We've had to hustle and try and do the best we can with some more guys. And we're bringing these guys in just in case we don't get guys back in the next week, these next few days, so we'll see what happens."

UPDATE (4:38 p.m.)

Two more players tested positive for Covid-19 late Tuesday afternoon while one tested out of the protocol. Cornerback Kendall Fuller and defensive tackle Tim Settle have been added to the Reserve/Covid-19 list and corner Darryl Roberts, who tested negative, has been activated from the list. Washington now has 10 players on the Reserve/Covid-19 list, nine of whom are defensive players. Six are defensive linemen.

Updated Reserve/Covid-19 List:

DE Montez Sweat (Wednesday, Dec. 8)
LB Khaleke Hudson (Friday, Dec. 10)
DE James Smith-Williams (Saturday, Dec. 11)
DE Casey Toohill (Sunday, Dec. 12)
DT Jonathan Allen (Monday, Dec. 13)
LB David Mayo (Monday, Dec. 13)
DE William Bradley-King (Monday, Dec. 13)
TE Temarrick Hemingway (Monday, Dec. 13)
DT Tim Settle (Tuesday, Dec. 14)
CB Kendall Fuller (Tuesday, Dec. 14)