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Broncos cancel walkthrough practice as precaution against COVID-19

Team placed a practice squad player on COVID-19 reserve list. Elway top aide Matt Russell kept home as contact precaution.
Credit: AP Photo/Jack Dempsey
John Elway, president of football operations for the Denver Broncos, looks on before an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Denver.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As COVID-19 strikes the Broncos’ organization from its very top to bottom and all points in between, the team has taken the added precaution of canceling its scheduled walkthrough practice Wednesday.

The Broncos are also keeping their coaches and players at home Wednesday, where they have been conducting virtual meetings.

The team also announced that it placed a practice-squad player on the league’s COVID-19 reserve list. 9NEWS has learned it was offensive tackle Darrin Paulo who tested positive, which is not a surprise considering offensive line coach Mike Munchak was placed in the COVID-19 protocol program last week and starting right guard Graham Glasgow tested positive for the virus.

The 3-4 Broncos are scheduled to resume on-field practice Thursday as part of their preparations for their next game Sunday at Atlanta against the 2-6 Falcons.

“In consultation with the NFL, we are taking the precautionary step of conducting today’s game preparations virtually and away from UCHealth Training Center,’’ the Broncos said in a statement. “With the recent increase in positive cases and a practice squad player added to the COVID-19/reserve list today, this was the safe and responsible thing to do.

“Other than player rehab, all football activities will take place remotely. Players and coaches will conduct their normal meeting schedule from home.

“The Broncos are scheduled to resume practicing on Thursday at UCHealth Training Center with meetings remaining in a virtual, remote format. The team will continue its preparations for Sunday’s game in Atlanta, working closely with the NFL and making all decisions based on the health of players, staff and their families.”

RELATED: COVID-19 infects top of Broncos' organization as Joe Ellis, John Elway test positive

RELATED: Broncos defensive coordinator Ed Donatell placed in COVID-19 protocol

These added precautions were employed after team chief executive officer Joe Ellis and general manager John Elway tested positive for the virus Tuesday. Along with the practice-squad player, the Broncos have also placed three positional coaches – running backs Curtis Modkins, offensive line Mike Munchak and defensive coordinator Ed Donatell – in the COVID-19 protocols.

Starting right guard Graham Glasgow and multiple staff members have also tested positive.

Credit: AP
John Elway, president of football operations for the Denver Broncos, watches his team warm up before an NFL football game against the New York Jets Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Meanwhile, 9NEWS has learned there was good news on Elway’s tracing as no players or position coaches registered as high-risk close contacts. As a precaution, a few staff were sent home for a few days, including Elway’s top deputy Matt Russell, who has played a key role in the team’s infusion of exciting young talent that helped pull out a come-from-behind, 31-30 win Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Russell has been testing negative and feels fine, per sources.

9NEWS learned Broncos head coach Vic Fangio led a team meeting via Zoom from home at 7:50 a.m. Wednesday. The team then broke into virtual special teams meetings, before there were offensive and defensive meetings for a few hours.