ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Yeah, sure, Patrick Mahomes II and the Chiefs are coming to town, but where has the action been this week?
In the parking lot at Dove Valley.
The NFL instituted new intensive COVID-19 protocols for the Broncos this week in light of running backs coach Curtis Modkins testing positive for the coronavirus early Saturday morning. At the core of the new protocols is enhanced social distancing.
For players, there is no more eating together in the team cafeteria. The tables and chairs at Broncos Café – which serves the best food anywhere, by the way – are all removed. Players grab their breakfast or lunch and either eat in their cars in the players’ parking lot, or sit at one of the dozen small tables set up outside overlooking the practice field.
Thursday’s cold, drizzly weather was an eat-in-the-car-with-the-heater-blasting kind of day.
Other changes to the Broncos’ routine brought on by the intensive protocols:
*The number of players working out in the weight room at one time are down considerably while the number of conditioning shifts are up.
*Full team meetings and full offensive and defensive meetings are conducted virtually through Zoom. Position meetings are still done in person, but players and their desks are spread out to at least 10 to 15 feet apart.
*The day’s schedule has changed. Through the first six weeks of the regular season, the Broncos would have morning meetings, then a morning walkthrough, break for lunch, and come back out for practice. Now, the walkthrough bleeds into practice and then the players eat. That’s a long time on the field. It also allows players to grab their lunches to go and eat their lunches at home.
Besides becoming a modified drive-thru restaurant, the Bronco players’ parking lot also carries a slot of prestige. Specifically, the front row spot nearest the sliding glass doors to Broncos headquarters that is reserved for head coach Vic Fangio.
“I had a little deal with the players last week that if we won and certain other things happened, then I was giving up my parking spot to a player for the week,’’ Fangio said in his Zoom media call Thursday.
It was rookie cornerback Michael Ojemudia who was awarded the prime parking spot for his two forced fumbles in the Broncos’ 18-12 win at New England.
So instead of Fangio’s Hyundai Genesis that is normally there, his parking spot has been occupied by Ojemudia’s Jaguar crossover SUV.
“It’s his for the week,’’ Fangio said. “He should be giving it to some veteran players, though.”