Stefanski returns to Browns, playoffs after COVID-19 absence

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CLEVELAND (AP) – Browns coach Kevin Stefanski is back with his playoff team after suffering COVID-19.

Stefanski returned to the team’s facilities on Thursday, 10 days after testing positive for the virus and missing Cleveland’s playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

He had been isolated at his home for the required 10 days since he contracted COVID-19. He lost his sense of taste but only experienced mild symptoms.

Stefanski couldn’t be with the Browns last week, and he watched them beat the Steelers at Heinz Field for the first time since 2003 on a TV in his home basement.

He will make his playoff debut on Sunday when the Browns face defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

Stefanski is in his first season with the Browns after spending 13 years as an assistant at Minnesota.

The 38-year-old’s consistency has been attributed to the Browns dealing with the many issues related to the pandemic as well as injuries.

“He’s never panicked at any point in our run this season,” said linebacker BJ Goodson. “He never panicked. He stayed the course and we are here.

Until Stefanski’s arrival, Cleveland had not been in the playoffs since the 2002 season.

The Browns also activated COVID-19 cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Kevin Johnson on Wednesday and expected them to play against the Chiefs and their powerful passing offense.

It’s possible the Browns could also pick up Pro Bowl left guard Joel Bitonio, who has been out since testing positive Jan. 5 with Stefanski.

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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