Ravens WR Dez Bryant tested positive for COVID-19 before Cowboys game
One of the biggest storylines heading into the Baltimore Ravens Tuesday night primetime showdown with the Dallas Cowboys was the excitement level of veteran wide receiver Dez Bryant about facing his former team for the first time.
Bryant spent the first eight seasons of his career and became a perineal Pro Bowler with the Cowboys before being unceremoniously cut.
Unfortunately, he was robbed of the opportunity to exact his revenge and show Dallas just what they were missing because he had to be pulled off the field during warmups and sent home after it was revealed that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
Bryant had an inconclusive test on Tuesday morning and was retested when he arrived at M&T Bank Stadium and when the rapid results turned up positive, he was immediately ruled out for the game.
The Ravens had their roster and coaching staff ravaged by an outbreak of COVID-19 last week and thought that they were completely past it. Thankfully, no other players tested positive or had to be held out after contact tracing revealed no high-risk candidates.
Following Baltimore’s 34-17 rout of the Cowboys, Head Coach John Harbaugh revealed that he was informed by General Manager Eric DeCosta just before the game that Bryant wouldn’t be suiting up and that he’d be a man short on the active roster.
“The timing of this thing, it’s a crazy kind of a deal,” Harbaugh said. “We had already turned in our inactives. Eric came down and told me that Dez had an inconclusive test and they were re-testing. We had to wait on that. In the meantime, the league told us we would not be allowed to bring a different player up if he tested positive.
“They came back out when we were on the field in pre-game warmups and said he had tested positive and he would not be allowed to play.”
Reigning league MVP and starting quarterback, Lamar Jackson, found out that he would be a one target short around the same time as Harbaugh.
“We found out when we were on the field warming up,” Lamar Jackson said. “We only had like four receivers out there and we were looking around for him. We knew how much it meant to him.”
The Ravens were left with just four receivers for the game without Bryant which wasn’t really impactful considering Baltimore’s formula for success on the night was using a punishing rushing attack to rack up a season-high 294 yard on the ground.
Of the receivers that did play, second-year speedster Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown led the team in targets, receptions, receiving yards, and score a touchdown for the second week in a row. Brown was really bummed out for Bryant postgame but didn’t let the news distract him from staying dialed in and having a nice outing.
“I feel for Dez, I didn’t hear the news until I was warming up for the game,” Brown said. “I was like, ‘Man, that’s crazy.’ I was getting ready for the game so I couldn’t put too much thought into it. Now after the game just thinking about it, I’m just praying for him. I hope he’s in good spirits.”
Veteran defensive tackle Derek Wolfe knew how much this game meant to Bryant and offered his sentiments for his teammate as well but understands that this is what life in the NFL is like in 2020 amidst a still surging pandemic.
“That’s the year that we’re dealing with,” Wolfe said. “You just never know what’s going to happen. I feel for Dez, I know he wanted to play in this game bad. He had a great week of practice. He was a great leader all week. It’s just sad that he didn’t get a chance to come out here and play against his old team.”
The Ravens will be facing the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football in Week 13 but since they played the Cowboys on Tuesday night, they’ll be coming off a short week yet again.
Bryant will likely be placed on the Reseve/COVID-19 List which means he won’t be eligible to play in Baltimore’s next game because he must go to a mandatory 10-day quarantine so he’ll have to wait until the team hosts the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 15 to return to action.