Pittsburgh Steelers place TE Vance McDonald on COVID-19 list after positive test

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced Monday afternoon that they had a player test positive for COVID-19, one day after they beat the Dallas Cowboys.

"The Steelers were informed this morning that a player has tested positive for COVID-19," Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten said Monday in a statement. "The player was immediately self-quarantined, and the organization continues to be in the NFL's intensive protocol. We have been in contact with the NFL and medical advisors to complete the necessary contact tracing. The player will be placed on the team's Reserve/COVID-19 list today.

"The health and safety of our players, coaches and staff members remain our highest priority."

About half an hour after the team made the announcement, the NFL's transaction wire showed that the team had placed tight end Vance McDonald on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

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Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald (89) runs the ball against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at Nissan Stadium. (Photo: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports)

McDonald made an appearance Friday on the team's final injury report before Sunday's game with an illness designation. The Steelers listed McDonald as questionable despite his not participating in practice on Friday.

The Steelers toppled the Cowboys, 24-19, Sunday and remained undefeated at a perfect 8-0. McDonald played 20 offensive snaps and caught one pass for 2 yards.

Pittsburgh is set to host the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday. There has been no indication thus far that the NFL was considering a schedule change. 

The league has been reluctant to cancel or postpone games even after teams have reported positive COVID-19 tests to players, coaches and staff members in the days or weeks before the games are played. 

The Steelers have already had their schedule impacted this season because of the pandemic, after an outbreak at the Tennessee Titans forced Pittsburgh's game that had been scheduled against them in Week 4 to be moved to Week 7. That change also meant that the Steelers were forced to take their bye on Week 4, something quarterback Ben Roethlisberger characterized as Pittsburgh getting "the short end of the stick." 

Because of that, the NFL now has less flexibility in terms of rescheduling a game in the Steelers' schedule if a significant outbreak comes out of this positive test. The league has pushed back several games this year after teams reported positive cases. 

McDonald has caught nine passes for 61 yards so far this season.

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