ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio said Wednesday that the team has fined all four of its quarterbacks for violations of COVOD-19 protocols, including not wearing masks.
Two of the quarterbacks, Drew Lock and Brett Rypien, returned to practice Wednesday. Lock, Rypien and Blake Bortles, who is on the practice squad, were not eligible to play in Sunday’s 31-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints after being deemed high-risk close contacts of quarterback Jeff Driskel, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. Fangio had said earlier this week that all forms of discipline were “on the table” for the four.
More discipline, including a fine to the organization as well as the loss of a draft pick, could come from the NFL in the days and weeks ahead.
Fangio also said Wednesday that Bortles would not practice with the team to “limit his exposure here.” In addition, the Broncos have Kyle Shurmur, who spent last season with the Kansas City Chiefs and is Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s son, going through COVID-19 testing in case the team wants to add him to the practice squad.
Driskel remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Lock, who has tested negative throughout the past week, was throwing with the starters in Wednesday’s practice and is expected to start Sunday against the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium.
“We came in on that Tuesday and got some extra work in when no one was here, and we got too lackadaisical with [the protocols],” he said Wednesday. “It ended up hurting us and it hurt this program and I apologize for letting that happen. We could have been better. That’s the point of the matter here. We needed to be perfect and we weren’t perfect. That’s something that we’ve got to be better at.”
The Broncos used running backs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman at quarterback at times in the loss to the Saints. Practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton, who played quarterback in three of his seasons at Wake Forest, played just over half of the team’s snaps at quarterback.
Hinton finished 1-of-9 passing for 13 yards with two interceptions as the Broncos gained just 112 yards overall, their lowest output in a game since a 1992 loss in Washington.
“Watching it was a gut-wrenching feeling the whole time,” Lock said. “It was tough. It was really tough. It wasn’t something that I enjoyed doing. I would much rather have been out there on the field helping my teammates out. It hurt my heart, hurt my soul.”
Lock said he saw Hinton on Monday outside the building where the players are tested each morning for COVID-19.
“I was just really proud of him to be able to go out there and try to lead that team against such a good defense,” Lock said. “He showed a lot of heart and he gained the respect of pretty much this whole team.”