Malcolm Jenkins and Juwan Johnson cleared from COVID-19 protocols

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Some reinforcements are on the way for the New Orleans Saints: starting safety Malcolm Jenkins and backup tight end Juwan Johnson have both been cleared from the COVID-19 reserve list, per Tuesday’s update to the daily NFL transactions wire.

And more help could be on the way ahead of Sunday’s Week 17 game with the Carolina Panthers after the NFL and NFLPA adjusted their protocols to reflect the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asymptomatic individuals may now return to work after five days, not ten, regardless of vaccination status.

That’s big news for a Saints team that lost to the Miami Dolphins on Monday night in part because of an outbreak that sidelined nearly two dozen players, including their top two quarterbacks and all three starting linebackers, plus an important on-field leader in Jenkins.

It’s frustrating that this change was initiated after the Saints-Dolphins game, but it honestly wouldn’t have made much of a difference for New Orleans. Only two players entered COVID protocols prior to that five-day window which would have allowed them to play, in Johnson and tight end Adam Trautman. All of the other Saints players on the list missed the cut and wouldn’t have cleared protocol in enough time to play on Dec. 27, including Jenkins.

Fortunately they should have ample time to get right in time for Jan. 2’s matchup with Carolina. And with a playoffs berth still within reach, New Orleans needs all the help it can get.

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