NFL changes COVID protocols, which means Colts could get players back before Raiders game

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The NFL updated its COVID protocols Tuesday after the CDC updates its recommendations. Here's what you need to know about the protocols, and what it means for players.

When can unvaccinated players return after testing positive?

Regardless of their vaccination status, players can return from isolation five days after testing positive if their symptoms have improved or they are asymptomatic. They have to be without a fever for 24 straight hours without the use of a fever-reducing medication and must be cleared by the team physician.

Once they are cleared, the player must wear a mask for five days at all times when not practicing or playing a game.

More: Carson Wentz could return for Raiders game

Doyel: Colts QB Carson Wentz has COVID, how his body reacts will determine if he plays

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) sets up an offensive play during the first half of the game Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) sets up an offensive play during the first half of the game Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

When can fully vaccinated players return after testing positive?

As was the case when the league updated its protocols on Dec. 16, players who are fully vaccinated may return sooner than five days if they return two negative tests (as outlined here).

Do players have to return a negative test to play?

If a player is asymptomatic, they do not have to test negative to return to play, according to a conference call with NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills.

"The CDC has been very clear that they don’t believe people are infectious and dangerous after five days," he said on the call.

When do the new rules take effect?

The new rules cover anyone who has been added to the league's reserve/COVID list this week. This means that, if he is asymptomatic or his symptoms have improved, Colts quarterback Carson Wentz can play on Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Which Colts players could play against Raiders?

As of Tuesday morning, the Colts had 15 players on the reserve/COVID list. If they are asymptomatic or have improved symptoms, they could all be eligible to return for Sunday's game.

More: See who’s on the Indianapolis Colts reserve/COVID-19 list after outbreak on NFL team

Follow IndyStar trending sports reporter Matthew VanTryon on Twitter @MVanTryon and email him story ideas at matthew.vantryon@indystar.com.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: NFL updates COVID protocols, which is good news for Colts

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