Detroit Lions place QB Jared Goff, OL Matt Nelson on reserve/COVID-19 list

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  • Jared Goff
    Jared Goff
    American football quarterback
  • Matt Nelson
    Matt Nelson
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A day after delivering his best performance of the season, Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff has come down with COVID-19.

The Lions placed Goff and swing tackle Matt Nelson on the reserve/COVID list Monday, the 11th and 12th players they’ve lost to the virus in the past 15 days.

Goff, who led the Lions to their second win of the season Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, could return in time for this week’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) passes against the Arizona Cardinals during first half action on Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, at Ford Field in Detroit.
Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) passes against the Arizona Cardinals during first half action on Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, at Ford Field in Detroit.

The NFL changed its health and safety protocols last week to allow vaccinated players to make a quicker return to play.

Under the new guidelines, vaccinated players can clear protocols as soon as the day after they test positive for the virus so long as they are asymptomatic and their viral load is above a certain benchmark.

Previously, players were required to quarantine for a minimum of 10 days, though vaccinated players could return sooner if they produced two negative COVID tests at least 24 hours apart.

Goff is vaccinated.

The Lions activated running back Jamaal Williams and cornerback Mark Gilbert off the reserve/COVID list Monday but still have six players in COVID protocols: Goff, Nelson, safety Jalen Elliott, and practice squad defensive players Nickell Robey-Coleman, Corey Ballentine and Tavante Beckett.

Center Evan Brown, safety Tracy Walker and cornerbacks Ifeatu Melifonwu and Bobby Price came off reserve/COVID last week.

Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) passes in the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High on Dec. 12, 2021.
Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) passes in the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High on Dec. 12, 2021.

Asked how he plans to split the work at running back going forward, Lions coach Dan Campbell referenced his team's COVID outbreak Monday.

"Let’s wait until we know exactly who we have," he said. "I think we got to get through the whole COVID deal here first and find out who we have."

Goff has had a down year in his first season in Detroit as the Lions have struggled to a 2-10-1 record, but the 27-year-old has played his best football since Campbell took over as offensive play caller during the bye week.

On Sunday, Goff completed 21 of 26 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Lions to a commanding win over one of the NFC's best teams.

He threw a 37-yard touchdown pass in the face of pressure to Amon-Ra St. Brown in the second quarter, laced a perfect 22-yard touchdown pass to Josh Reynolds just before halftime and added a 6-yard touchdown pass to fullback Jason Cabinda early in the second half.

"He made some outstanding throws today," Campbell said after the game. "My gosh, man, first one to St. Brown was unbelievable. Just how he had to step up, release it quick, it’s there. That’s a heck of a play. The throw to Reynolds right before halftime. Huge play. But he got us in the right play, I thought he maneuvered well. He took some hits, he bounced back. I thought he played outstanding."

The Lions are 0-1 without Goff this season, losing to the Cleveland Browns, 13-10, in one of their worst offensive performances of the season.

Tim Boyle started in Goff's place, and completed 15 of 23 passes for 77 yards with two interceptions in rainy conditions.

Boyle likely will start against the Falcons if Goff cannot play.

The Lions also placed linebacker Alex Anzalone on season-ending injured reserve Monday with a shoulder injury, and signed running back Craig Reynolds from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions QB Jared Goff latest NFL star sacked by COVID-19