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New rule to allow teams to replace late COVID-19 inactives

The NFL is adjusting its game-day rules in the event of a COVID-19 designation close to kickoff.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported that the NFL informed teams that if a positive test or high-risk close contact designation comes after the deadline for submitting game-day inactives, a club can activate a new player up to 30 minutes before kickoff, per a source informed of the decision.

Inactives are required 90 minutes before kickoff.

The change comes after Dez Bryant was ruled out of the Baltimore Ravens Week 13 game against the Dallas Cowboys right before kickoff following an inconclusive test and subsequent rapid-result positive. Bryant got pulled after inactives were announced, leaving the Ravens with one fewer roster spot filled.

In the future, other teams wouldn't have to play under such conditions if a positive COVID-19 test is revealed after the inactives window passes.

In such a scenario, the club "must place the effected player on the club's Reserve/COVID list" before it can activate a player previously indicated on the inactive list or elevate a player, according to the memo sent to teams.

The Ravens activated Bryant off the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday.

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