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Broncos backup QB Jeff Driskel placed on COVID reserve list

Team confident there are no contact tracing issues with starter Drew Lock or other QBs.
Credit: AP
Denver Broncos quarterback Jeff Driskel scrambles under pressure from Tampa Bay Buccaneers nose tackle Vita Vea, left, and defensive end Ndamukong Suh, right, during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The relentless COVID virus has struck the Broncos again.

Veteran reserve quarterback Jeff Driskel is going on the league’s COVID-19 list Thursday. Driskel started one game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in relief of the injured Drew Lock in week 3, served as back up to Brett Rypiethe n in the Broncos’ win against the New York Jets in week 4, and has been inactive since.

Broncos officials started working through Driskel’s COVID case at 4 a.m. Thanksgiving Day with NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills. Driskel has no symptoms, feels completely healthy and was surprised to be placed on the COVID list, a source told 9NEWS.

It was determined Driskel did not have any contact tracing concerns with the team’s other quarterbacks and the Broncos were cleared to practice Thursday in preparation of their game Sunday afternoon against the New Orleans Saints.

“The other quarterbacks were only on there a minimal amount, like 2 minutes some seconds, four minutes,’’ said Broncos head coach Vic Fangio. “And that’s over a three- or four-day period. So they thoroughly checked those guys that were on the 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 minutes and they came back and said nobody else needs to go on the list.”

The Broncos had gone two straight weeks without a positive test from any of its players, coaches or football staff. Driskel joins Broncos defensive lineman Shelby Harris and defensive coordinator Ed Donatell on the current COVID list. Harris will miss his fourth consecutive game because of contact tracing and a positive test. He has been conditioning on the side this week but has not yet been cleared to practice.

“He'll need to practice in order to play just because he's been out,'' Fangio said. "This will be going on his fourth week so we we need to practice. Until you see him off the list and practicing, you can assume he won't play."

Fangio was asked on his Zoom media conference on Thanksgiving Day if he is thankful the NFL season is in its home stretch despite the 8 1/2-month-and-counting pandemic. 

“I am. I had my doubts in July before training camp started, but I am thankful it's gotten to this point, think we'll get to the finish line. I'm thankful that the guys that have gotten the virus within our organization have done well with it. I'm thankful that Ed Donatell is on his road to recovery and doing better. And I'm just thankful for being the teammate with these players on this team.”

Driskel had been simulating New Orleans’ athletic quarterback Taysom Hill in practice Wednesday. Fangio said Blake Bortles and Brett Rypien would fill that role during practice Thursday and Friday.

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