Cincinnati is sacking leader Trey Hendrickson and three other starters are among five Bengals who were placed on the COVID-19 reserve list on Tuesday.
Center Trey Hopkins and left guard Quinton Spain have been dismissed along with security guard Vonn Bell. The fifth player is linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither, who injured his foot.
The Bengals (10-6) clinched the AFC North title on their first trip to the playoffs since the 2015 season. Cincinnati has an away shot to clinch the AFC’s No.1 seed on Sunday with a victory on Cleveland and help.
The NFL is allowing players to return five days after testing positive for COVID-19 if they don’t show symptoms. Last week’s reduction from the previous isolation time of 10 days includes unvaccinated players.
Hendrickson is fifth in the NFL with a career-high 14 sacks. Pittsburgh’s TJ Watt leads with 21½.
About the same number of players – around 20 – continued and rolled off the COVID-19 list on Tuesday.
Arizona, who qualified for the playoffs and can still win NFC West, activated four roster players and added two. The Cardinals face Seattle on Sunday.
Two returning Arizona players are starters: tackle DJ Humphries and linebacker Markus Golden. Returning substitutes are linebacker Devon Kennard and cornerback Breon Borders. Two backups were put on the COVID-19 list to Zach Kerr and linebacker Tanner Vallejo.
Green Bay activated two safe starters Darnell Savage and defensive lineman Kingsley Keke, as well as reserve tackle Dennis Kelly and save receiver Amari Rodgers. Lineman Billy Turner has been put on the COVID-19 list. The Packers locked the NFC No.1 seed ahead of their regular season finale against Detroit.
San Francisco, who need a win over the Los Angeles Rams or loss to New Orleans to reach the playoffs, had two sidelined substitutes in defensive backs Dontae Johnson and Jimmie Ward.
The Browns put running back Ernest Johnson on the COVID-19 list. Johnson was a solid replacement for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, rushing for 411 yards and two touchdowns.
The Browns removed linebacker Elijah Lee from the COVID-19 roster and activated quarterback Nick Mullens and safety Cedric Thompson from the COVID-19 practice roster.
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