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NFL: Ekeler, Cooks, coach Sirianni among latest affected by COVID-19

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The Los Angeles Chargers could be without running back Austin Ekeler (30) in Week 16 due to his recent placement on the reserve/COVID-19 list. File Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/67a6508b588353a3a6bc7a9132196880/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
The Los Angeles Chargers could be without running back Austin Ekeler (30) in Week 16 due to his recent placement on the reserve/COVID-19 list. File Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI | License Photo

CINCINNATI, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Austin Ekeler and Brandin Cooks were among the star players recently added to the NFL's reserve/COVID-19 list. The Philadelphia Eagles also announced that coach Nick Sirianni tested positive for COVID-19.

A total of 33 players, not including those on practice squads, were added to the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, according to the NFL's transaction wire.

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Many players added to the list could still play in Week 16 due to the NFL's modified COVID-19 protocol. The old protocol required players who tested positive, but were asymptomatic, to submit two negative test results -- taken 24 hours apart -- before they could return.

The new protocol allows for players to return quicker if they are vaccinated, asymptomatic and test negative twice within one day.

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Unvaccinated players who test positive must quarantine for 10 days.

The Texans added Cooks, kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn and linebacker Eric Wilson and now have a total of 16 active-roster players on the list.

Cooks leads the Texans with 80 catches for 945 yards and five scores this season.

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Ekeler, the Los Angeles Chargers' star running back, was among the most-notable of Wednesday's additions to the reserve/COVID-19 list. Chargers wide receiver Jalen Guyton joined Ekeler on the list Wednesday.

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On Monday, the Chargers placed an NFL-high seven players on the list, including recent Pro Bowl selections Joey Bosa and Corey Linsley.

Ekeler ranks fourth in the NFL with 1,347 yards from scrimmage. His 17 total touchdowns are second in the NFL, trailing only Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (19).

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The Texans (3-11) host the Chargers (8-6) at 1 p.m. EST Sunday at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Sirianni and Robert Saleh of the New York Jets were among the coaches who tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.

Jets tight ends coach Ron Middleton will serve as the team's interim head coach until Saleh can clear the NFL's COVID-19 protocol. Eagles passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo will assume head coaching duties until Sirianni clears the protocol.

The Jets (3-11) host the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) at 1 p.m. EST Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

The Eagles (7-7) host the New York Giants (4-10) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

A total of 21 NFL players were added to the list on Tuesday and 51 were added Monday.

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Week 16 of the 2021 NFL season starts when the Tennessee Titans (9-5) host the San Francisco 49ers (8-6) at 8:20 p.m. EST Thursday in Nashville.

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