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Panthers send personnel home after ‘somewhat significant’ outbreak

With two weeks left in the regular season, the NFL is still dealing with a number of COVID-19 cases.

Several star players – including Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, Los Angeles Chargers outside linebacker Joey Bosa, Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook and Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard – were sidelined for their respective teams’ Week 16 contests. And more key contributors could be in line to miss the penultimate round of regular-season games.

Here’s the latest COVID-19 news from around the NFL, including who’s going on the COVID-19 reserve list this week and who’s coming off of it:

MORE: 32 things we learned from Week 16 of 2021 NFL season

NFL WEEK 16 WINNERS, LOSERS: Josh Allen’s Bills on track to win AFC East, WFT embarrassed by Cowboys.

Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule works the sidelines in the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule works the sidelines in the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Panthers have ‘somewhat significant outbreak’

The Carolina Panthers sent all personnel home Monday amid what coach Matt Rhule called a “somewhat significant” outbreak of COVID-19.

Rhule said the Panthers returned more positive tests that morning but did not reveal how many.

The Panthers later placed six players on the COVID-19 reserve list: Pro Bowl defensive end Brian Burns, starting linebacker Shaq Thompson, defensive end Marquis Haynes Sr. , defensive tackle Phil Hoskins, defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon and center Matt Paradis. Nixon and Paradis had already been ruled out for the rest of the season and were on injured reserve.

Carolina, which faces the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, had seven players on the COVID-19 reserve list as of Monday morning.

Colts add five more to COVID-19 reserve list

INDIANAPOLIS — A Colts team that has been ravaged by COVID-19 is still in the midst of an outbreak as the week of preparation for the Las Vegas Raiders begins.

Indianapolis placed right tackle Braden Smith, running back Marlon Mack, cornerback T.J. Carrie, safety Jahleel Addae and linebacker Malik Jefferson on the COVID-19 reserve list on Monday morning, making it 13 Colts who have been placed on the list since last week.

All-Pro left guard Quenton Nelson, All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard, right guard Mark Glowinski, safety Khari Willis, cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, wide receiver Zach Pascal, defensive end Kemoko Turay and practice squad tight end Farrod Green were placed on the list last week.

Because the Colts are one of the least vaccinated teams in the NFL — Leonard, Nelson, Pascal and others were unvaccinated in August — some of their players must sit out at least 10 days before returning to the lineup. Under NFL rules, a vaccinated player may return earlier than 10 days if he tests negative twice 24 hours apart, or if the viral load in his body falls below a certain threshold.

For example, vaccinated linebacker Zaire Franklin tested positive after the bye week, but he did not miss a game because he tested out of the protocol in time to play against the Patriots. Leonard, who was open about his decision to not get vaccinated, is expected to miss both the Cardinals game and the Raiders game.

A COVID outbreak might be the only thing that could potentially keep the Colts from finishing off their remarkable comeback from a 1-4 start to make the playoffs.

Indianapolis is currently the No. 5 seed in the AFC at 9-6, and a win over Las Vegas on Sunday would clinch a playoff berth, but a thin roster depleted by COVID-19 could make that difficult, even after the Colts overcame absences to beat Arizona on the road on Christmas night. Based on the way COVID-19 has ripped through NFL rosters — the Colts are the 15th team to place at least seven players on the reserve/COVID-19 list since Dec. 8 — Indianapolis could be facing more positive tests before the end of the week.

— Joel A. Erickson, Indianapolis Star

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NFL COVID updates: Panthers have ‘somewhat significant’ outbreak

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