Monday’s loss to the Las Vegas Raiders could be the extent of Mike Priefer's step-in as acting Browns head coach.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters Tuesday that his 10th day in quarantine under the NFL's COVID-19 protocols, which falls on Christmas Day when the Browns play the Green Bay Packers, won't prevent him from returning to the Browns sideline, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. Stefanski added that he expects to have quarterback Baker Mayfield available for Week 16, as well.
However, he might be required to travel on his own to Green Bay if he doesn't test out of protocols by the time the team makes the trip on Friday. The coach added that separate travel also might be necessary Mayfield, depending on test results, according to Ulrich.
With two consecutive negative tests coming 24 hours apart, the coach and quarterback could test out of protocols before then. Stefanski said he's hopeful that some players on the reserve/COVID-19 list could return to practice as early as Wednesday.
Mayfield and Stefanski tested positive for COVID-19 last Wednesday, part of a rash of positive tests on the team last week that also included key players such as Jedrick Wills, Wyatt Teller and Jarvis Landry.
Stefanski helped the team prepare for the Raiders last week through virtual participation in team meetings. The Browns (7-7) fell to last place in the AFC North following the loss but are still alive for a playoff berth with three games left to play.
Beating the Packers with a head coach unavailable and key personnel unable to practice for part of this week, if not all of it, won't be easy. Stefanski declined to say whether Mayfield would even start if he's available to play but unable to be with the team until game day.
"We're all hopeful we test out sooner," Stefanski said, per the Beacon Journal.
It's a precarious situation, to be sure, but Stefanski is at least confident he'll be back to lead his team under whatever circumstances arise.