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Friday January 21st, 2022 9:38PM

The Latest: Big Ben tops list of early afternoon absences

By The Associated Press
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The Latest from Week 10 of the NFL (all times EST):

12:35 p.m.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are hosting the winless Detroit Lions without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

The 39-year-old was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list on Saturday night. Mason Rudolph is set to start for a Steelers team that has won four straight games.

The rest of the lineup of early afternoon kickoffs includes Cleveland at New England, Jacksonville at Indianapolis, Tampa Bay at Washington, Buffalo at the New York Jets, Atlanta at Dallas, and New Orleans at Tennessee.

The Titans placed wide receiver Julio Jones on injured reserve with a hamstring injury on Saturday, further depleting an offense already missing star running back Derrick Henry.

Other prominent players who have been declared inactive this afternoon include Browns running back Nick Chubb (COVID-19), Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (ankle), Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (ribs), Saints running back Alvin Kamara (knee), Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool (toe), Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith (ankle), Colts cornerback Xavier Rhodes (calf), Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith (shoulder) and Patriots running back Damien Harris (concussion).

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11:35 a.m.

The Denver Broncos signed quarterback Danny Etling to their practice squad in case the COVID-19 virus further affects their QBs.

Backup Drew Lock has been on the reserve/COVID-19 list since contracting the virus last weekend.

As close contacts to Lock, starter Teddy Bridgwater and third-stringer Brett Rypien have been taking daily coronavirus tests. If they pass their tests again today, they’ll be active for the Broncos’ game against the Philadelphia Eagles this afternoon.

If not, Etling would serve as the emergency quarterback. He’s a 2018 seventh-round pick out of LSU who has spent time on the practice squads of the Patriots and Falcons.

The Broncos have been dealing with COVID-19 issues for almost three weeks with six players and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur testing positive.

On Saturday, the Broncos placed outside linebacker Pita Taumoepenu on the Practice Squad/COVID-19 list. — Arnie Stapleton reporting from Denver.

11 a.m.

The Buffalo Bills placed defensive tackle Star Lotulelei on the reserve/COVID-19 list a few hours before kickoff of the team's game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.

Defensive tackle Brandin Bryant was elevated from the practice squad to take Lotulelei's place for the game.

Lotulelei has two sacks and 14 tackles in seven games, all starts, this season for the Bills.

The 31-year-old Lotulelei opted out last season because of concerns about the pandemic. He was placed in COVID-19 protocols during training camp after he was deemed to be a close contact, and was activated on Aug. 27.

Bryant, who joined Buffalo's practice squad last year, hasn't played in a regular-season NFL game since 2019 with Cleveland. He was signed by Seattle as an undrafted free agent out of Florida Atlantic in 2016, and has also spent time with the Jets and Miami Dolphins as well as Winnipeg and Montreal of the Canadian Football League. — Dennis Waszak Jr. reporting from East Rutherford, New Jersey.

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More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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