Broncos Without a Quarterback
The Denver Broncos are set to host the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, and the team will be extremely short-handed for this matchup.
Denver will be without all three quarterbacks on the active roster, and a former wide receiver will be under center to start the game.
Quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien, and Blake Bortles will all be inactive on Sunday as they have not been cleared by the league based on COVID-19 protocols. All three players were deemed to be high-risk close contacts of someone that has tested positive for COVID-19, and they will not be allowed to be in uniform.
Driskel tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, and he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The team has not yet announced who the players came in close contact with, but Driskel would be the obvious choice. Its not the first time the Broncos have stuffed with players missing this season.
Both Bortles and Rypien were preparing to play in the game on Sunday, but they were removed from the practice field on Saturday morning. The league conducted its contact tracing, and these players were sent home to isolate and begin monitoring for symptoms.
According to league sources, all three quarterbacks were not wearing masks at some point during the week, but it’s unclear if that was in a team meeting or at practice. This is a clear violation of the league’s policy, and it will leave the Broncos short-handed on Sunday.
The Broncos have activated wide receiver Kendall Hinton from the practice squad, and he will make the start at quarterback on Sunday. Hinton played quarterback for three years while at Wake Forest before shifting to the wide receiver position.
Running back Royce Freeman will be another option for the Broncos as he has been the team’s emergency quarterback. Losing an entire positional group has been a fear around the league, but it has finally happened to the Broncos.
League Denies Strange Broncos Request
The Broncos were hoping to use a coach as the starting quarterback against the New Orleans Saints, but that transaction was not approved by the league. Denver wanted to use offensive quality control coach Rob Calabrese as the starting quarterback on Sunday, and the team made multiple requests to the league.
The Broncos felt that Calabrese, who has spent the last two seasons at his position, gave the team the best chance to win based on his knowledge and understanding of the offense. The league denied the request, stating that the team was not eligible to activate a coach to the active roster.
Denver also made several appeals to the league to push the game back until Tuesday, believing that there would be a chance for a quarterback to be back in time. Commissioner Roger Goodell ultimately ruled that the game must be played as scheduled.
The league has pushed the Steelers-Ravens game to Tuesday night as both teams are dealing with several positive COVID-19 tests. The Broncos are also likely facing a severe fine and a loss of draft picks for not adhering to the COVID-19 safety protocols.
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