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NFL: League safeguards Sunday prime time slot after Raiders COVID-19 positive

(Reuters) - Las Vegas Raiders’ Week 7 showdown against Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been bumped from its Sunday prime time slot, the NFL said on Thursday after a positive test on the Raiders team.

FILE PHOTO: The NFL logo is pictured at an event in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

The 3-2 Raiders will meet at 4:05 p.m. ET while the unbeaten Seattle Seahawks and divisional rival Arizona Cardinals play in Sunday Night Football at 8:20 pm ET as the league safeguards a coveted broadcast slot and further enhances safety protocols.

“These decisions were made out of an abundance of caution to ensure that a game would be available for fans on Sunday Night Football,” the NFL said in a statement. “We expect the Buccaneers-Raiders game to be played on Sunday afternoon.

“Scheduling decisions are made to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel and in consultation with medical experts.”

The NFL has seen numerous disruptions to its schedule due to positive COVID-19 tests among players and personnel this season.

Offensive tackle Trent Brown tested positive for COVID-19 and Raiders head coach Jon Gruden told reporters on Wednesday that the 27-year-old’s status for Sunday’s game was “unknown,” as the league placed the club under its “intensive protocol” measures.

Gruden, who won a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers during his seven seasons coaching in Tampa Bay, said he was forced to send home five of his team’s starting offensive linemen because of possible contact with Brown, casting doubt over the team’s potential readiness to take on the Tom Brady-helmed squad.

“We’re listening to the league and they’re advising us on what to do,” said Gruden.

The NFL rolled out stricter punishments for teams found in violation of safety protocols earlier this month, and NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills told reporters on Thursday that the league was further developing its program to identify “high-risk” contacts of COVID-19 positive individuals.

“As we think about a ‘high-risk contact,’ there are many variables that go into that determination – again, it’s not just ‘Were you within six feet for 15 minutes?’ – it has to do with a lot of these other variables,” said Sills, including the environment where the potential contact occurred and whether masks were worn.

Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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