The Mercury News Weekend

Dolphins quarterbac­k Fitzpatric­k likely out following positive test


Miami Dolphins backup quarterbac­k Ryan Fitzpatric­k tested positive for COVID-19 and is expected to miss Sunday’s regular-season finale at Buffalo.

C oa ch Br ia n F lore s shared the news w ith Fitzpatric­k’s teammates dur ing a Z oom meeting Thursday, safety Eric Rowe said. Fitzpatric­k’s positive test was first reported by NFL Network.

“It hurts,” Rowe said. “He’s a leader of our team. He brings energy, even in the Zoom meetings. But you’ve got to push forward. I’m just praying for his health.”

Fitz patr ick repla ced Tua Tagovailoa last week in the fourth quarter and orchestrat­ed an improbable comeback win at Las Vegas that allowed the Dolphins to retain control of their playoff chances.

F lores earlier designated Tagovailoa as this week’s starter.

Fitzpatric­k’s availabili­ty for a wild- card playoff game next week is in question. The 16-year veteran has never made the postseason, but the Dolphins (10- 5) will clinch an AFC wild- card berth if they beat Buffalo.

PACKERS LT BAKHTIARI SUSTAINS SERIOUS KNEE INJURY >> The Green Bay Packers’ playoff hopes took a hit when Pro Bowl left tackle David Bakhtiari sustained a serious knee injury in practice, according to multiple media outlets. The injury is believed to be a torn anterior cruciate ligament, NFL Network reported.

The playoff-bound Packers ( 12- 3) can clinch a first-round postseason bye with a Sunday win at Chicago (8-7) or a loss or tie Sunday by the Seattle Seahawks.

Bakhtiari, 29, was selected to the Pro Bowl for the third time in his eightyear career this season.

NFL U N ION PRESIDENT TRETTER OFFERS SUGGESTION­S FOR 2021 >> NFL Players Associatio­n president JC Tretter is calling for the significan­t reductions in offseason work forced by the pandemic to continue in future years.

Tretter emphasized the need to reduce all offseason programs, which typically begin in early spring and last through mid-June, including organized team activities and mandatory minicamps.

THE BROWNS ARE TRYING TO SHAKE FREE FROM COVID-19 ISSUES >> Issues with the virus intensifie­d for the Browns as top cornerback Denzel Ward and linebacker Malcolm Smith tested positive and were ruled out for Sunday’s game. The team also canceled practice as it prepares to face the Pittsburgh Steelers — with a playoff spot up for grabs..

The Browns’ latest COVID-19 situation has further impacted preparatio­ns for Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh. If they win, the Browns will make the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and end the NFL’s longest current playoff drought.

A league spokesman said at this point the game will be played as scheduled, and that the situation is being closely monitored as standard contact tracing continues.

Bryant and Smith will miss Sunday’s game along with starting linebacker B. J. Goodson and safety Andrew Sendejo, both of whom tested positive.


Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur says there’s a possibilit­y newly acquired defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison could play in the team’s regular-season finale Sunday at Chicago.

The Packers claimed Harrison off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks on Wednesday as they looked to add depth to their defensive front for their playoff run. LaFleur said that

Harrison is with the team.

BUCS WR EVANS LOOKING TO MAKE HISTORY >> T he Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, but coach Bruce Arians still has a major task at the forefront of his mind.

Arians not only wants to close the regular season with a victory in Sunday’s game against the visiting Atlanta Falcons, but he also wants to see Mike Evans’ name st anding alone in the record books. Evans needs 40 receiving yards against the Falcons (4-11) to become the first player in NFL history to reach 1,000 in each of his first seven NFL seasons. Evans shares the current mark of six with Hall of Famer Randy Moss.

RAMS DL BROCKERS JOINS WR KUPP ON COVID-19 LIST >> Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Michael Brockers has been placed on the COVID-19/reserve list. Brockers joins receiver Cooper Kupp on the list ahead of the Rams’ season finale against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

Kupp isn’t expected to rejoin the Rams in time for the game, while the team hasn’t speculated on Brockers’ availabili­ty.

SUPER BOWL ODDS FAVOR CHIEFS >> The Kansas City Chiefs have the shor test Super Bowl odds, but that isn’t dissuading bettors from backing the defending champions. The Chiefs are being offered at +190 by Draft Kings, where they are being backed by 28 percent of the total bets and 21 percent of the total handle.

Pa r t of that is due to K a nsa s Cit y bein g among the top two favorites throughout the season. The Baltimore Ravens passed them at some books early in the season, but quickly fell off following a loss to the Chiefs and are now fighting just to make the postseason.

T he Ravens are now +1400 to win the Super Bowl by Draft Kings, but are still second only to the Chiefs with 10 percent of the total bets.

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