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Simmons out, Bonitto, Hinton cleared from illness for Tennessee trip

GM Paton scouts Tennessee-Missouri game. Vols have two potential first-round picks in WR Tillman, QB Hooker.

DENVER — Broncos starting safety Justin Simmons will not play Sunday against the Tennessee Titans because of a knee sprain, a source confirmed.

Simmons injured his knee near the end of the Broncos' 21-17 win against Jacksonville in a game played in London two weeks ago. Following a bye week, Simmons missed practice Wednesday but appeared to be recovering well as he practiced late in the week. The determination after practice Friday, though, was Simmons' knee had not quite come around.

P.J. Locke, a fourth-year player from Texas, will get his first NFL start in place of Simmons, who had been an Iron Man with 66 consecutive starts from the start of the 2018 season through the season opener this year, but will now miss his fifth game of the season Sunday. Simmons missed four games earlier this year with a quad injury.

Meanwhile, the NFL’s next COVID-19 outbreak during the 2022 regular season will be the first.

The Broncos apparently won’t be the first team to succumb to the once world-changing virus after two players got sick and missed practice Friday -- outside linebacker Nik Bonitto and backup receiver Kendall Hinton – were feeling better Saturday and were cleared to travel with the team for the game here Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

A third player who missed practice last week with an illness, backup cornerback Darius Phillips, stayed home with a non-COVID-related sickness, a source told 9NEWS. The NFL has not placed a player on COVID reserve since prior to the regular season in August.

No other players were listed sick on the Broncos’ revised injury report Saturday although offensive tackle Cam Fleming was downgraded to OUT because of his quad injury.

The NFL no longer requires players, coaches, staff members or on-site media to take the COVID test. There are some cases of COVID, as well as a non-COVID flu virus, that has been spreading around the country.

In other roster moves, the Broncos elevated offensive lineman Quinn Bailey and defensive lineman Jonathan Harris from their practice squad. Bailey will serve as the swing tackle behind left tackle Calvin Anderson and right tackle Billy Turner. Harris figures to be reinforcement up front as the Broncos prepare to meet 247-pound running back Derrick Henry.

Credit: AP
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) runs during the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Bronco Bits

  • Ahead of the Broncos-Titans game Sunday, Denver general manager George Paton and his top assistant Darren Mougey attended the Tennessee-Missouri college game Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn. Vols receiver Cedrick Tillman and quarterback Hendon Hooker are potential late-first-round draft picks. The Broncos currently have San Francisco’s first-round pick that would come in at No. 20 if the season ended today.
  • The Broncos’ charter flight was a little more crowded than usual as it was the coaches’ wives trip.

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