USATSI

Two days after they fell to the Raiders while missing coach Kevin Stefanski and 18 different players due to COVID-19, the Browns welcomed back a couple faces Wednesday, including Stefanski. The coach was back at Browns facilities, as the Akron Beacon Journal reported, and is set to return to the sidelines for the team’s Christmas Day matchup with the Packers.

Stefanski, who previously missed the Browns’ 2020 wild card victory due to COVID, was replaced by special teams coordinator Mike Priefer during Cleveland’s loss to Las Vegas — which was itself delayed three days because of COVID outbreaks. He told the Journal this week he expected to return from mandated isolation in time for the Week 16 Packers game, also noting that he expects starting quarterback Baker Mayfield to come off COVID reserve for Saturday’s contest.

Starting tight end Austin Hooper, linebacker Jacob Phillips and practice-squad return specialist JoJo Natson were also activated off COVID reserve Wednesday, though the Browns also placed rookie cornerback Greg Newsome II on the list.

Their game against Green Bay could have serious playoff implications. The Packers (11-3) are fighting to maintain the NFC’s No. 1 seed, while the Browns (7-7) are in a tight AFC North battle and vying for one of the conference’s final wild card spots.

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