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Bronco notes: Bolles, Fant back home while Dawson, Toliver finished with ACL tears

Broncos left tackle, tight end were kept overnight in Charlotte as precautions after they fell ill. Team has now lost 3 corners to ACLs in week's time.
Credit: AP Photo/Gerry Broome
Denver Broncos cornerback Duke Dawson Jr. is helped off the field after getting hunt during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Denver Broncos starting left tackle Garett Bolles and tight end Noah Fant were back home late Monday morning after travelling on a team-arranged charter flight from Charlotte to Denver.

Bolles and Fant did not travel back with the team Sunday evening after the Broncos defeated Carolina, 32-27 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Instead, they were kept overnight in a Charlotte hotel as a precaution after they were stricken with unrelated illnesses Sunday. Bolles has a food allergy and something he ate Saturday night did not sit well in his stomach on Sunday morning.

Because his stomach ailment was considered a COVID symptom, Broncos medical officials prevented Bolles from playing in the game. Bolles had started in all 60 games since he was the Broncos’ first-round draft pick in 2017 before missing sitting out against the Panthers.

Fant vomited before the game -- something he often does -- but also had a slight headache leading into the game. He played the Broncos' first offensive possession but at that point the medical staff pulled him from the game as a precaution and took him into the locker room. He took a Point of Care (POC) virus test in the locker room, which came back negative, but against his wishes he was not allowed to return.

After Bolles and Fant passed their overnight PCR and Monday morning POC tests, they boarded a team-arranged charter flight back to Denver.

“I'm optimistic they'll be ready to play (Saturday against the Bills),'' Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said during his day-after-game Zoom press conference Monday. "They just got back in town here within the last few minutes. We do not think it was COVID, but obviously they'll keep testing and make sure it wasn't. We believe it was something else, so they should be fine hopefully.”

Credit: AP
Carolina Panthers running back Mike Davis (28) is tackled by Denver Broncos cornerback Duke Dawson Jr. (20) during an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Brian Westerholt)

Two more cornerbacks suffer ACL tears

This is getting absurd. Not only did cornerback Duke Dawson Jr. suffer a torn ACL, as 9NEWS reported was the team’s fear Sunday evening, but another backup corner, Kevin Tolliver II, also tore an ACL, according to a league source.

That’s three ACL injuries among Broncos cornerbacks in a 7-day period as rookie slot corner Essang Bassey suffered the same fate the previous week at Kansas City.

The Broncos have now lost five cornerbacks in the past three weeks. Top corner Bryce Callahan is out at least one more week with a foot injury, No. 2 corner A.J. Bouye was slapped with a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance enhancement policy, and then Bassey, Dawson and Tolliver went down with ACLs.

"This is rare,'' Fangio said, who has been an NFL coach for 34 seasons.

Credit: AP Photo/Brian Blanco
Duke Dawson Jr. is helped on the field after getting hunt during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C.

Dawson’s injury occurred on a non-contact play in the first quarter Sunday. He was shooting in on a blitz when quarterback Teddy Bridgewater took off on a run up the middle. Tolliver was hurt while covering a punt with 2:48 left in the game.

The Broncos otherwise played rookie Michael Ojemudia and journeyman De’Vante Bausby at the outside cornerback positions Sunday with newly reacquired Will Parks replacing the injured Dawson in the slot.  The team also added veteran cornerback Nate Hairston last week. 

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