Saints place WR Sanders on COVID-19 list

The New Orleans Saints placed wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Friday and he will miss Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers, coach Sean Payton said.

That means two key wide receivers will not play after Michael Thomas was listed as out for Sunday’s game with ankle and hamstring injuries.

Sanders practiced with the team on Thursday but was not seen Friday during the part of practice open to reporters. Payton said the team learned of Sanders’ positive COVID-19 test on Thursday and team director of sports medicine Beau Lowery began setting up contact tracing.

“He wasn’t feeling well,” Payton said. “Right away (Lowery) sent him to our doctors for one of our tests. That came back positive. After that happened, we traced those players he was around, and coaches.

“We actually tested about 20 more people that might have been near him, and those all came back negative.”

Payton said cornerback Ken Crawley will be added to the COVID-19 list as a precaution due to close contact with Sanders.

The loss of Sanders comes just when Thomas was listed on Friday’s injury report as out. Thomas appeared set to return from his ankle issue then injured his hamstring earlier this week.

Thomas hasn’t played since Week 1. He suffered the ankle injury in the opener and later missed a game due to disciplinary reasons when it appeared he was ready to return.

Sanders is coming off a huge game against the Los Angeles Chargers recording a career-high 12 receptions for 122 yards in Week 5. Overall, he has 26 catches for 304 yards and two touchdowns this season.

Sanders is in his first season with the Saints after signing as a free agent in the offseason.

Sanders has 627 receptions for 8,197 yards and 44 touchdowns in 149 games (106 starts) with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2010-13), Denver Broncos (2014-19), San Francisco 49ers (2019) and Saints.

Also listed out for Sunday was offensive lineman Nick Easton because of a concussion. The Saints could turn to rookie Cesar Ruiz as the starter at right guard. Safety J.T. Gray was listed as questionable with a hamstring injury.

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