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New York Giants limit facility access, cite rapid tests for ‘unusually high number’ of COVID-19 false positives

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The New York Giants say irregularities with the rapid COVID-19 tests used by the NFL’s lab seem to have resulted in false positive results for several players, potentially including running back Saquon Barkley.

Coach Joe Judge said there were a “good amount” of coaches, players, staff members and even media that had seemingly irregular results over the past few days.

“Bio-Reference Laboratories (BRL) is experiencing an unusually high number of false positives using the Rapid Mesa Test at our facility. With the exception of one individual, all of the positive Mesa test results over the last two days have come back negative through PCR testing,” the Giants said in a statement. “The laboratory is working with experts to determine the source of the problem.

“The NFL and BRL are monitoring this situation closely. We are temporarily halting the use of the Rapid Mesa Test and administering PCR tests only.”

Barkley and safety Xavier McKinney are on the reserve/COVID-19 list and were not at practice Thursday, pending further results.

Barkley, McKinney and starting left guard Matt Skura tested positive during rapid tests for COVID-19 earlier in the week, but all three players’ PCR tests came back negative, setting off alarms that something could be amiss. Twelve of 13 positive results from Tuesday were false positives.

All but one of the organization’s PCR tests, for running backs coach Burton Burns, have come back negative to date. PCR is a molecular test that detects genetic material of the virus using a lab technique called polymerase chain reaction.

Skura was back at practice Thursday because his rapid tests were split, but Barkley and McKinney were not. There is hope McKinney and Barkley could return later in the week if additional PCR tests are negative as well.

Barkley doesn’t seem likely to play Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders because of an ankle injury that has sidelined him for the past three games.

“I wouldn’t eliminate [Barkley playing] at this point based off where he’s at physically, but I couldn’t say it’s moving in direction to get us a definite answer in a positive way,” said Judge, who also noted Thursday afternoon that “no one has been ruled out.”

The Giants enter the contest amid a turbulent week that began with a Monday night loss in Kansas City. Burns then tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, and the Giants had to retest the entire organization Wednesday and go remote for meetings on Thursday.

“As a precautionary measure, we canceled in-facility meetings for players this morning and closed our office to non-football staff,” the Giants’ statement said. “Football meetings are being conducted virtually. Players, unless their test results are still being assessed under COVID protocols, will return this afternoon for practice.”

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Dallas Cowboys haven’t asked me to sit vs. New Orleans Saints

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FRISCO, Texas — Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott does not want to take a game off despite a bruised right knee.

“No one’s came to me and asked me to rest,” Elliott said Sunday as the Cowboys opened up preparation for Thursday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.

If they do, Elliott said he would listen.

“I’ve just got to go with what they believe is best for the team,” he said.

Elliott said he has been dealing with the injury since banging it in the Oct. 3 win against the Carolina Panthers.

A day after the Thanksgiving Day loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, coach Mike McCarthy expressed concern for Elliott’s health after Elliott had just 25 yards on nine carries. The running back has not topped 51 yards in his last four games, the lowest-output of his career.

“It’s that time of year,” McCarthy said. “Zeke’s running style is ferocious. He gives a pounding and he takes some hits. We need to evaluate that and this week we’ll see what the preparation looks like for him.”

A source told ESPN the Cowboys will consider providing Elliott some time off to heal, including the possibility of holding him out of Thursday’s game. The source does not believe placing Elliott on injured reserve is a consideration at this time. That would require him Elliott to miss at least three games.

The Cowboys have scaled back Elliott’s snaps in the last four games to help manage the injury. He has played 164 of 280 offensive snaps (58.5%) after playing in 379 of 451 snaps (84%) in the first seven games of the season.

Elliott has missed just one game in his career because of injury (calf strain last December vs. the San Francisco 49ers). He was held out of the season finales in 2016 and ’18 because the Cowboys’ playoff position was set, and he was suspended for six games in 2017.

“He’s the ultimate competitor,” right guard Zack Martin said. “We see it on a day in, day out basis and I think everyone is seeing it. He takes great pride in being there for his teammates and doing whatever he can in his power to help this team win. For me, he’s one of the top competitors I’ve been around, and he’s going to keep doing that.”

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Follow live: Lamar returns for Ravens in AFC North showdown vs. Browns

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Groin injury ends Randall Cobb’s most productive day since his return to Green Bay Packers

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Randall Cobb‘s most productive day since his return to the Green Bay Packers this season ended at halftime of Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Cobb was ruled out at the start of the second half because of a groin injury.

He set a season high for receiving yards in the first half with 95 on four catches, including a 7-yard touchdown that was his fifth score of the season. Previously on that drive, Cobb had a 43-yard reception to move the Packers into the red zone. It was not immediately clear when Cobb suffered the injury. He muffed a punt in the second quarter but stayed in the game.

The Packers traded for Cobb this past summer at the request of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Cobb played for the Packers from 2011 to 2018. They let him go in free agency, and he spent one season each with the Cowboys and Texans.

The Packers finally had their full complement of receivers back with the return of Allen Lazard from a shoulder injury. It lasted for one half.

Cobb’s previous best game came in Week 4, when he caught six passes for 69 yards and two touchdowns.

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