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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Three Denver Broncos quarterbacks, including starter Drew Lock, can return to practice and the team’s facility Wednesday after each tested negative Tuesday for COVID-19, multiple sources confirmed to ESPN.
Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles, who is on the practice squad, were deemed “high risk” close contacts to Jeff Driskel, who tested positive for the coronavirus Thursday. After concerns over the contact tracing data and violations in the league’s COVID-19 and social distancing protocols, the three were pulled off the practice field Saturday and none of them were in uniform for Sunday’s 31-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Broncos coach Vic Fangio had said Monday if the three received negative test results Tuesday they would return to team activities Wednesday. All three had again tested negative as they had each day since Driskel was moved to COVID-19/reserve, sources said.
9News was first to report the quarterbacks had test negative again on Tuesday.
Fangio said Monday additional discipline is still “on the table” for Lock, Rypien and Bortles if no discipline comes from the NFL, including the possibility of a fine for “conduct detrimental” to the team.
The Broncos were fined $250,000 and Fangio was fined $100,000 earlier this season for not following mask protocols and now face the prospect of a fine as well as a potential loss of a draft pick for the latest incident.
“We’re all disappointed that it happened, it’s not just Drew,” Fangio said Monday. “I know Drew is getting the bulk of it because he’s the starter, but there was four of them in there and you’d like one of them to take the lead to make sure they’re spaced out far enough.”
The Broncos have also begun the process of putting quarterback Kyle Shurmur, who is offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s son, through COVID-19 protocols to be signed. If the Broncos don’t release a quarterback by the time Shurmur is cleared to participate in team meetings and practices, he would be the fifth quarterback on the roster or practice squad.
Fangio said Monday the option of quarantining a quarterback would be discussed for future weeks, “but I think if we just follow the protocols, we’ll be fine.”
Lock had issued an apology on social media before Sunday’s game and said he made an “honest mistake, but one that I will own.”
Practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton played 24 of the team’s 43 snaps on offense at quarterback Sunday while the Broncos had running backs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman take direct snaps the rest of the time. Hinton was 1-of-9 passing for 13 yards with two interceptions after his 24-hour crash course in the offense and the Broncos gained 112 yards overall.
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