As the Cardinals wrapped up their week of practice Friday, Kliff Kingsbury was still absent.
But quarterbacks coach Cam Turner, who also tested positive for Covid a week ago the same day as Kingsbury, was back on the field. Linebacker Chandler Jones has yet to come off the Covid list, but he was in the building.
There remains a good chance the Cardinals will have to play the Texans on Sunday without their head coach again. But after the chaos of last weekend – including losing Kingsbury after all the practice ended for the week – the Cardinals are in a more stable place.
If Kingsbury is able to return Saturday or even Sunday, they are ready for that too.
"The plan we have on that (offensive) side of the ball is Kliff's plan," said acting co-head coach and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph. "The virtual stuff, it's like he's in the room with us. So nothing has changed from a prep standpoint. If (Kliff) comes up (available) Saturday or Sunday, he can definitely coach the game."
There is little question Kingsbury would want to be out there if at all possible. But his only chance to come back before 10 days is to test negatively twice in back-to-back days, while being asymptomatic.
"I know he's itching to get back," run game coordinator/offensive line coach Sean Kugler said. "I think it's driving him nuts. Coach is all ball, man. I can't wait until he comes back. But everyone is working hard in case it happened again, and we'll be prepared.
"I would lose my mind. I am pretty sure Coach did too. But he used the time to get prepared for the next opponent, which tells you all about Coach that you need to know."
Joseph said the Cardinals are naturally in a better spot both because they have gone through a game without Kingsbury but also because they have had a week to prep. With the Kingsbury news coming down last Friday afternoon, the Browns weekend – especially with travel – was a whirlwind of upheaval.
Getting Jones back is a possibility. He is now eligible to come off the Reserve/COVID-19 list now that he is 10 days removed from going on, and he was back in the building Friday working out. But Joseph said his status for Sunday has not yet been determined.
For Jones to be able to play Sunday, he would have to be activated off the Covid list by Saturday.
"We'll see how much he can play or if he can play," Joseph said. "He's here, he's smiling, and in good spirits. We'll see how it works out. With players and Covid, a 10-day Covid stint it's always tough for players to come back at full strength.
"We have to gauge it and make sure it's right for him to play."
Defensive linemen Corey Peters and Zach Allen are also on the Covid list. Allen's 10th day is Sunday, Peters on Tuesday.
"Time tells on those things," Joseph said.
The Cardinals have a short week coming up, with a home game against the Packers the Thursday after the Texans. By that time, Kingsbury will be back.
The waiting game is on for whether Kingsbury might be able to return a few days sooner.
"We need coach back," Joseph said. "He's going nuts right now."
FITTS GOES ON INJURED RESERVE
Linebacker Kylie Fitts said on social media his season was over after suffering a concussion, and the Cardinals officially put him on injured reserve Friday afternoon.
"He's had a couple of head issues the last year or two," Joseph said. "It's obviously player safety first."
Tight end Darrell Daniels (hamstring) and defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence (calf) are officially out for Sunday. Linebackers Jordan Hicks (toe/ankle), Tanner Vallejo (hand) and Devon Kennard (shoulder) are all questionable.
For the Texans, defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson (back) and quarterback Deshaun Watson (personal) are out. Center Justin Britt (knee), wide receiver Nico Collins (foot) and wide receiver Chris Conley (neck) are questionable).