After being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on September 1 after testing positive for COVID-19, Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu is returning to the team ahead of KC's Week 1 matchup with the Cleveland Browns — per Nate Taylor of The Athletic.
The deadline to activate Mathieu was 3 p.m. CT on Saturday, just over 24 hours before the Chiefs will kick off with the Browns on Sunday. Now, even with Mathieu returning to the active roster, several questions remain about his availability on Sunday. Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports that the Chiefs will continue to monitor Mathieu's status heading into tomorrow's game.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid tends to leave players sidelined if they don't at least practice on Friday, which Mathieu did not, but Mathieu may also be a special case for Kansas City. Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo noted that Mathieu has taken part in team meetings virtually this week, but it's also worth noting that Mathieu hasn't physically practiced in nearly two weeks. Jumping straight into a full slate of game action could be a challenge.
On Thursday, Spagnuolo was asked what he'd expect from Mathieu, noting that he's been off the field for a significant stretch of time.
"We don’t know, right? But this dude we’re talking about is a special guy, in my opinion," Spagnuolo said. "So, we’ll see, but I think we’ve got to be fair to him. We always say that sometimes you’ve got to protect the players from themselves, so we’ll be careful there. Coach Reid and I have talked about it with Rick [Burkholder]. We’ll see where we’re at when the time comes."
On Friday, Reid was asked if Mathieu would potentially be able to play on Sunday even without a week of practice.
"Yeah listen, we’re just going to see how it goes," Reid said. The other guys have practiced, they’re ready to go. If he can’t go, he can’t go. If he can, he can.
As explained by Kevin Patra of NFL.com, "vaccinated players or staff who test positive and are asymptomatic can return to duty after two negative tests 24 hours apart. For non-vaccinated persons who test positive, the 2020 protocols remain in place, requiring a 10-day isolation."