ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Common sense won out over medical science. And the health and safety of a player triumphed over winning at all costs.
Although Russell Wilson advanced well through the concussion protocols this week and received doctor's clearance to play Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett decided he will hold his quarterback out of the game.
"As an organization we decided to give him another week to get ready, so he's ready to go for the Los Angeles Rams,'' Hackett said Friday. "Russ is one of the ultimate competitors in this game. We informed him of the decision, he's not happy with it. He wants to be out there and play. ... And we as an organization, after discussing and talking throughout this entire week have decided it's best for our organization, it's best for Russell.
"We talked about this from top all the way to the bottom. We looked at every single thing and we just want to give him a week to get ready."
Early in the fourth quarter of the Broncos' comeback attempt against the Kansas City Chiefs, Wilson scrambled 14 yards for a first and goal at the 2, but his head was driven into the field by defensive end Frank Clark. A 9NEWS camera shot showed Wilson's eyes closed and his body limp as he was apparently knocked unconscious. He came to quickly and was groggy as he got up and walked to the sideline, and he even jogged to the medical tent as a sign of recovery.
The independent neurologist and Broncos medical team were not fooled, however, and Wilson was declared out of the game with a concussion and immediately placed in the NFL's concussion protocols.
"Obviously we had an incident last week,'' Wilson said Friday at his locker. "Thought the training staff and everybody did a great job. Went through all the testing, all the protocol stuff, did a great job throught it all, really with flying colors, everything went great. And practice, got to practice this week. But they wanted tgo give me another week to recover and all that,
"For me I always want to be on the field. I believe in competing and being out there on the field no matter what the circumstances are. I'm always the quarterback in that sense that you've got to be out there. But I think at the same time it was a collective decision by the organization."
Truth is the risk was greater than the reward. The risk was the Broncos subjecting Wilson to more hits -- he is the most sacked quarterback in the league -- and physical damage. The reward was improving the team's record was 4-10. Not much of a reward.
Still, it's not a decision other teams may not have made. On Monday, Hackett said, "his safety is the No. 1 biggest priority for us so we want to make sure we do what's right for him." The coach then backed his words with actions by holding Wilson out against the Cardinals, even though the quarterback seemed to have no trouble as he gradually moved through the team's practices this week.
In Wilson's absence. Brett Rypien will get his second start of the season, the third in his career. Rookie quarterback Jarrett Guarantano will serve as Rypien's backup.
"We're very confident in Ryp,'' Hackett said. "We're very excited about Ryp and this opportunity to go up against the Arizona Cardinals."
The Broncos are 3-10 and eliminated from postseason play while Arizona is 4-9 and will start its own backup quarterback, Colt McCoy, in place of the injured Kyler Murray.
"Not exciting that Russell is injured and recovering but I know he's doing better and I'm just excited for the opportunity,'' Rypien said. "Always excited when you get to play. My only focus is try to get a win on Sunday."
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