Robert Saleh, NY Jets, Covid
Robert Saleh, New York Jets, Getty Images

Robert Saleh’s Sunday status is in question

Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh has tested positive for COVID-19. Schefter’s report dictates that tight ends coach Ron Middleton will serve as the interim head coach on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars (1 p.m. ET, CBS) if Saleh does not clear protocol.

As the final stages of the NFL’s regular season have been sabotaged by the ongoing health crisis, Saleh is the latest to test positive in the Jets’ circles. He previously announced on Monday that running back Michael Carter, offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker, and defenders John Franklin-Myers and Sharrod Neasman were all placed on the team’s COVID-19 list.

In addition to Saleh, the Jets now have 14 players in COVID protocols. With the rise of cases brought upon by the omicron variant of COVID-19, the NFL recently announced it would adjust its testing and return-to-play protocols that subject asymptomatic players to less stringent testing procedures and would allow those who test positive a quicker route back to the field.

Saleh is the latest head coach to potentially miss game time thanks to the omicron variant’s rise, with Sean Payton of New Orleans and Cleveland’s Kevin Stefanski among the absences. A new metric has been introduced to the ongoing return-to-play policies, this one focused on the “cycle threshold” which would determine how contagious a subject is. No changes apply to unvaccinated players, who will continue to be tested daily and must stay away from team facilities for 10 days upon a positive test.

Middleton, chosen to take over if Saleh is unable to go, is one of the Jets’ many first-year coaches on the staff though he has lingered as a coach on both the collegiate and NFL circuits, a career that began as a tight ends/offensive tackles/special teams overseer at Troy. He previously spent eight years as a tight ends/special teams coach with Sunday’s opponent from Jacksonville. Middleton also played ten seasons, primarily in Washington, in the NFL as a tight end (1986-95).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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Geoff Magliocchetti is a veteran football writer with years of credentialed experience with the Jets and Giants. Email:
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