ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — It’s a race against a quarantine.
Broncos quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles all tested negative for a fifth consecutive day since another quarterback, Jeff Driskel, learned Thanksgiving morning was positive for COVID-19.
The league determined that because Lock, Rypien, Bortles and Driskel did not wear masks or maintain social distance guidelines for a period of time during a voluntary, extra film session Wednesday and Tuesday, the first three were considered "high risk close contacts" with Driskel and would have to be placed in a 5-day quarantine.
That self-isolation period elapses Tuesday.
"If they’re negative again tomorrow then they’re ready to rejoin as normal," said Broncos’ head coach Vic Fangio in his day-after-game Zoom media conference Monday.
The soonest return for Driskel, who has yet to experience symptoms, is Saturday.
Broncos players and coaches, like those with all NFL teams, are conducting meetings virtually from their respective homes on Monday and Tuesday. The Broncos’ first practice in preparation for their game Sunday night against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium is Wednesday. If Lock tests negative Tuesday (and Wednesday, too, for that matter as all players must take the virus test every day) he will again be the No. 1 quarterback.
With all four quarterbacks prevented from playing Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton, a former quarterback at Wake Forest, filled in. Hinton didn’t fare well, although he received praise across the continent for trying. The Broncos lost, 31-3, in a desultory offensive performance.
Fangio talked about possibly fining the four quarterbacks if the league didn’t but that hasn’t been determined.
The Broncos have taken a step toward making sure Sunday’s farce doesn’t repeat. The team has brought in Kyle Shurmur, son of Broncos’ offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, to begin his COVID testing Monday. Kyle Shurmur was on the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad last year and wound up with a Super Bowl ring. A three-year starter at Vanderbilt, Kyle Shurmur threw 50 touchdown passes against just 16 interceptions in his junior and senior seasons of 2017-18 combined.
And who knows dad’s offensive system better than his son? Kyle Shurmur could serve anything from "quarantine" QB where he would work out away from others, to practice squad, to 53-man roster and starter against the Chiefs if none of the current QBs are cleared.
Hinton, by the way, was automatically reverted back to the Broncos’ practice squad Monday. Thanks for trying, kid.
The coach was asked if Lock’s ability to serve as a team leader would be undermined by his failure to adhere to COVID protocols, which put the team with zero chance to win Sunday.
"I don’t think so," Fangio said. "Yeah we’re all disappointed that it happened. It’s not just Drew. I know Drew is getting the bulk of it because he’s the starter, but there were four of them in there and you’d for one of them to take the lead and make sure they’re spaced out far enough. But again it’s just like my kids. My kids have done things that have disappointed me during their upbringings but I still love them. And I still love Drew and all the quarterbacks. They made a mistake that we’re ready to move past on."
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