Lamar Jackson, the Baltimore Ravens quarterback and the National Football League’s reigning Most Valuable Player, on Thursday became the highest-profile player to test positive for the coronavirus as an outbreak of cases spread to more than a dozen players on the team, according to several media outlets.
The cluster of new cases threatened to upend the team’s next game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, an A.F.C. North matchup that the league had already moved to Sunday afternoon from Thanksgiving night.
The league said on Thursday night that the game would still be played Sunday. But if not, it could create a cascade effect for the league’s schedule makers, who had already shifted more than a dozen games so far this season because of the virus and appear to have little wiggle room in the 16-game schedule for further postponements.
The N.F.L. Network reported that Jackson, 23, whom the team selected in the first round of the 2018 draft, had tested positive for the virus.
Earlier this month, the N.F.L. fined the Las Vegas Raiders $500,000 and their head coach, Jon Gruden, an additional $150,000, for repeated violations of the league’s coronavirus protocols. The league also docked the team a late-round draft pick. And earlier this season, the league fined several coaches for not wearing masks on the sidelines.
Now, the league is grappling with a worsening outbreak that could reverberate well beyond the Ravens.
On Monday, Baltimore’s starting running back, Mark Ingram II, was one of three players added to the Ravens’ Covid-19/reserve list. On Wednesday, the team’s starting defensive tackle, Calais Campbell, was one of three more players added to the list.
Further complicating matters was that the Ravens are scheduled to host the Dallas Cowboys next Thursday night in Baltimore.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver, complained on Twitter about the league moving the team’s Thanksgiving night game against the Ravens and said it was the second time that Pittsburgh’s schedule had been changed this season. The Steelers are undefeated.
“First the NFL takes away our bye week because another team can’t get their Covid situation together, now they take away our Thanksgiving primetime game for the same reason,” Smith-Schuster said. “Smh.”