Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown is ready to return from the ankle injury that has kept him off the field since Week 10, but he'll still be unable to play against the division rival New England Patriots on Monday night. The Bills activated Brown off injured reserve, but immediately placed him on the COVID-19 list, making him ineligible for the game.
According to Bills beat writer Sal Capaccio, Brown is considered a close contact of running back T.J. Yeldon, who tested positive and was also placed on the COVID-19 list. Along with Brown, running back Christian Wade and safety Josh Thomas are considered close contacts, and have been placed on the COVID-19 list as well. In the corresponding roster move, the Bills promoted practice squad quarterback Davis Webb to the active roster.
In Brown's continued absence, rookie wideout Gabriel Davis will remain in the lineup alongside Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley in the Bills' primary three-receiver sets. Davis has 30 catches for 459 yards and six touchdowns this season, spending most of his time either spelling Brown or Diggs, or starting in place of Brown.
Davis started in place of Brown during these two teams' first matchup, but did not catch either of the two passes thrown his way. He has been much more productive during his most recent stint as the starter, catching 11 passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns through Brown's four-game absence.
The Bills need to come away with a win against New England to keep pace with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the race for the No. 2 seed in the AFC. The Bills own the tiebreaker by virtue of having beaten Pittsburgh in Week 14, so if they can win their next two (or win at least one and have the Browns beat the Steelers next week), they'll got the top non-bye spot in the conference tournament.