AROUND THENFL

Li­ons say QB Stafford had a false-pos­i­tive COVID-19 test ... Roeth­lis­berger’s el­bow was both­er­ing him for ‘quite a few years’ ... Wash­ing­ton coach thrilled with In­man sign­ing

The Province - - SPORTS - John Kryk keeps you up­dated on the NFL jokryk@postmedia.com Twit­ter: @JohnKryk

Matthew Stafford is back with his Detroit Li­ons team­mates and coaches. Turns out, he never had COVID-19, ac­cord­ing to the Li­ons.

The vet­eran quar­ter­back reg­is­tered a false-pos­i­tive test late last week, and was placed on the Li­ons’ re­serve/ COVID-19 list on Satur­day.

He of­fi­cially was moved back to the ac­tive list on Tues­day af­ter­noon.

In a state­ment the Li­ons ex­plained why:

“As a re­sult of a false-pos­i­tive test re­sult, he was forced due to NFL/NFLPA pro­to­cols to sit out un­til he re­ceived two nega­tive tests. His test­ing se­quence for the pre-en­try pe­riod was: nega­tive, nega­tive, false-pos­i­tive. The next three tests were all nega­tive.

“To be clear, Matthew does NOT have COVID-19 and never has had COVID-19 and the test in ques­tion was a false-pos­i­tive. Also, all of Matthew’s fam­ily have been tested and ev­ery­one is nega­tive.”

False-pos­i­tive COVID-19 tests are rare, but do hap­pen. As an ex­am­ple, Public Health On­tario said that as of May 23 false-pos­i­tives had been reg­is­tered on only about 20 of 228,000 tests (0.0088%) done in the prov­ince to that point.

So far in train­ing camps, NFL play­ers are be­ing tested daily, via lower nasal swab tests, rather than the “brain tick­ling” long-swab, deep-nasal tests com­mon ev­ery­where dur­ing the early weeks of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic. Re­ports say lower nasal swab tests are no less re­li­able than the more in­va­sive types; they’re ac­cu­rate in de­tect­ing the virus more than 90% of the time.

Stafford, 32, missed the last half of last sea­son with back and hip in­juries, from which he says he’s fully re­cov­ered.

ON BEN’S EL­BOW

How dam­aged was the right throw­ing el­bow of Pitts­burgh Steel­ers quar­ter­back

Ben Roeth­lis­berger last Septem­ber, be­fore he shut him­self down for the sea­son?

Big Ben told re­porters Tues­day on a video con­fer­ence call that he’d had “a lit­tle bit of an in­jury in that el­bow for quite a few years,” but it was never bad enough to side­line him. It never even both­ered him every day, he said, and was “just some­thing that was never se­ri­ous enough” for surgery or sidelin­ing.

But in a Week 2 loss last sea­son to Seattle, Roeth­lis­berger felt mat­ters wors­en­ing, un­til a deep throw to

JuJu Smith-Schus­ter

RE­ALLY messed things up. He said he in­stantly felt pain shoot up his right arm.

That was it. Big Ben was done for 2019.

Turns out, he tore three of five flexor ten­dons “off the bone,” and had to un­dergo a type of surgery that he said “he be­lieves no QB has ever come back from.” There’s “no real name for it,” Roeth­lis­berger said.

The three ten­dons each had to be sur­gi­cally reat­tached to his el­bow.

“From what I’ve been told, if I re­mem­ber cor­rectly … it’s never hap­pened to a quar­ter­back, to this mag­ni­tude,” the two-time Su­per Bowl win­ner said.

That is, quar­ter­backs have torn one or two ten­dons clear off the bone, but not three. Yikes. Roeth­lis­berger, now 38, said he could have re­tired but “I just didn’t feel I was done play­ing foot­ball … If it was a thought, it wasn’t a long one.”

Then he elab­o­rated on his mo­ti­va­tion, for this year and, he hopes, a few years more:

“If I felt I was closer to the end (of my ca­reer), it would have been more of a de­ci­sion for me, to think longer about com­ing back or not. But I just didn’t feel I was close to that yet. I’m not say­ing I’ve got 10 years left in me, but I def­i­nitely feel like I’ve got some re­ally good years left in me.

“That was def­i­nitely a mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tor, to come back and show that I still have a lot left in the tank, I still have a lot to give this team, I still have a lot to give the fans. And I still want to win Lom­bardis. And I say that with a plu­ral on the end.”

Roeth­lis­berger said he has been throw­ing well for more than two months.

“My arm feels re­ally good. I threw a lot of balls yes­ter­day. I woke up to­day and it feels re­ally great.

“I think the plan is still to pitch-count through train­ing camp … Just to see how it’s go­ing to feel … Right now we’re just work­ing on tim­ing with re­ceivers, tight ends and run­ning backs.”

What’s more, Roeth­lis­berger said he has shed some weight.

“I’m prob­a­bly lighter than I’ve been in 13, 14 years … I’m just re­ally ex­cited about the sea­son.”

Roeth­lis­berger was listed at 240 pounds in 2019.

GOOD MAN TO HAVE IN

Wash­ing­ton head coach Ron Rivera sounded pumped about the team’s sign­ing Tues­day of wide re­ceiver Don­trelle In­man:

“I’m pretty ex­cited about bring­ing a young man in like that, who’s got some play­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s a young group of wide re­ceivers we have, and any time we get the op­por­tu­nity to bring a player in that’s had suc­cess, we’re ex­cited about it.”

In 65 games over six NFL sea­sons with the Charg­ers fran­chise, Chicago and In­di­anapo­lis, In­man has caught 170 passes for 11 touch­downs.

TRADE IS OFF

On Tues­day, Min­nesota traded a con­di­tional sev­enth-round 2021 draft pick to the Las Ve­gas Raiders, to ob­tain de­fen­sive tackle P.J.

Hall, a bust with the Sil­ver and Black af­ter be­ing drafted in Round 2 two years ago.

But Hall failed his phys­i­cal with the Vik­ings, thus his rights re­vert back to the Raiders.

CORO­N­AVIRUS UP­DATES

More play­ers have opted out of play­ing in 2020, with the dead­line to do so rapidly ap­proach­ing: Thurs­day at 4 p.m. EDT. (Oth­er­wise, all play­ers are con­trac­tu­ally ob­li­gated to play this sea­son.)

Tues­day’s ad­di­tions in­cluded Cleve­land Browns de­fen­sive tackle An­drew Billings, who signed as a free agent in March. He played his first four NFL sea­sons in Cincin­nati, start­ing 37 of 47 games.

Mean­time, more play­ers were placed on the re­serve/ COVID-19 list for ei­ther test­ing pos­i­tive for the coro­n­avirus or com­ing into close con­tact with some­one with it, in­clud­ing: Cleve­land WR

Ja’Mar­cus Bradley and Min­nesota DT Ar­mon Watts.

Among those ac­ti­vated from re­serve/COVID-19: Min­nesota S Brian Cole II, Min­nesota WR Justin Jef­fer­son and Detroit CB Justin

Cole­man. Mi­ami ac­ti­vated CB Cor­drea Tanker­s­ley off the list then waived him.

SUZANNE PLUN­KETT/REUTERS

Detroit quar­ter­back Matthew Stafford reg­is­tered a false-pos­i­tive test late last week, and was placed on the Li­ons’ re­serve/COVID-19 list on Satur­day. He of­fi­cially was moved back to the ac­tive list on Tues­day af­ter­noon.

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