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Bronco notes: Rules against paying Lindsay's Pro Bowl expense; Peyton Factor

Cross off Justin Herbert from Broncos' 2019 draft board; coach Azzanni's challenge
Credit: Kyle Terada, USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay (30) before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — If Phillip Lindsay wants to go to the Pro Bowl, he’ll have to pay his way like everybody else.

The Broncos’ rookie running back was voted onto the AFC Pro Bowl team last week, but he won’t be able to play after suffering a significant right wrist injury Monday night at Oakland. A check with the NFL revealed only full participants are compensated for the Pro Bowl trip to Orlando. No airfare, no hotel and no player share, which is $70,000 for each player on the winning team; $35,000 for each player on the losing side.

The collective bargaining agreement policy on Pro Bowl non-participants between the league and union is understandable given there is usually a roster worth of Pro Bowl players who either bow out of the game or can’t play because of injury each year.

The Broncos are prohibited from paying Lindsay’s way even if they wanted to because it would be a CBA-salary cap violation.

Still, it’s another tough break for Lindsay, who was the first-ever undrafted offensive player to ever make the Pro Bowl squad. Dallas cornerback Everson Walls became the only undrafted rookie to make the Pro Bowl when he did so in 1981.

Several undrafted rookie special teamers have earned a Pro Bowl berth, including Broncos’ kicker David Treadwell in 1989.

Lindsay has ligament damage around his scaphoid bone (one of the small “carpal” bones) that will likely require surgery to repair. Lindsay is getting a second medical opinion Thursday or Friday, but the first set of team doctors have told him he will need surgery to repair his wrist.

He will be out four to six months. While this means he probably will be held out of team drills during the offseason OTA (organized team activity) and minicamp practices, he should be ready by the start of training camp.

While the surgery would be on his right wrist, the good news is Lindsay primarily carries the ball in his left hand.

Peyton Factor

In the three seasons prior to the arrival of Peyton Manning, the Broncos were a combined 20-28. If the Broncos lose Sunday at home to the Los Angeles Chargers – and that’s the way to bet – the Broncos will be 20-28 in the three seasons since Manning retired.

It’s hardly a coincidence.

The Broncos were 50-14 with four AFC West Division titles, two conference championships and a Super Bowl title in the four seasons Manning was their quarterback from 2012-15.

While the overall Broncos roster was usually well-stacked with talent at other positions during the Manning era, there’s little question he deserves more credit than any other player for the team’s success.

Herbert to stay in school

John Elway liked Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert enough to go watch him play in person earlier this season. Elway, the Broncos’ general manager, will have to delete Herbert from his 2019 draft board and save him for 2020 after the 6-foot-6 Ducks’ quarterback announced Wednesday he will return to Oregon for his senior season.

Herbert was widely considered the best quarterback prospect in the upcoming draft had he surrendered his college eligibility.

Elway, the Broncos’ general manager, and his top personnel man Matt Russell flew to Eugene, Oregon to watch Herbert lead the Ducks past Washington, 30-27 on October 13.

Last month, Elway and Russell were accompanied by personnel consultant Gary Kubiak in watching Missouri quarterback Drew Lock play against Arkansas.

Other incoming rookie quarterbacks Elway is also expected to be interested in are Duke’s Daniel Jones and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins.

Based on their 6-9 record through week 16, the Broncos would have the No. 12 overall pick in the 2019 draft if the season ended today.

Azzanni challenged

No NFL receivers coach – and perhaps no receivers coach in Broncos history – has been more challenged in the season’s final month than Zach Azzanni.

After trading away Demaryius Thomas and losing Emmanuel Sanders to a season-ending torn Achilles, the top 4 receivers the Broncos will use Sunday in their season-finale against the Chargers had a combined zero catches entering this season.

No. 1 receiver Courtland Sutton was the team’s No. 3 through the first half of the season; No. 2 receiver DaeSean Hamilton was No. 4; No. 3 Tim Patrick was No. 5; and new No. 4 River Cracraft spent the first half of the season on the practice squad.

Cracraft is moving up a spot after veteran Andre Holmes suffered a high ankle sprain Monday night at Oakland and is not expected to play against the Chargers.