Coronavirus: Denver Broncos set to face New Orleans Saints without recognised quarterback
Starter Drew Lock, back-up Brett Rypien and practice squad quarterback Blake Bortles were ruled out of Sunday's game with the New Orleans Saints after being deemed close contacts; Wide receiver Kendall Hinton set to play as an emergency quarterback
Last Updated: 29/11/20 5:09pm
The Denver Broncos face the prospect of playing the New Orleans Saints on Sunday without a recognised quarterback.
The nightmare scenario materialised after quarterback Jeff Driskel tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday and fellow quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were deemed as close contacts.
Kendall Hinton, a wide receiver on the practice squad, is slated to fill in as the Broncos' starting quarterback. He was activated from the club's practice squad to the active roster on Sunday.
Hinton was a high school quarterback who started two games at quarterback in college for Wake Forest before spending three seasons as a backup and then moving to receiver.
For his entire college football career, Hinton had 1,504 passing yards, a 53 per cent completion rate, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has never played in an NFL game at either quarterback or wide receiver.
ESPN's Adam Schefter has reported that the Broncos, who sit third in the AFC West with a 4-6 record, are not planning to forfeit the game.
The most 2020 scene of all: Denver's QBs were deemed high-risk, close contacts because they were not wearing their masks. The Broncos will hit the field Sunday against the Saints without a quarterback.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 28, 2020
Here's how Denver got wiped out at the QB position in a 72-hour span:— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 28, 2020
QB Jeff Driskel tested positive for COVID on Thursday.
Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles did not wear masks, per a source, and were deemed high-risk close contacts today. They now are out Sunday.
"The most 2020 scene of all: Denver's QBs were deemed high-risk, close contacts because they were not wearing their masks," Schefter wrote on social media.
"The Broncos will hit the field Sunday against the Saints without a quarterback.
"Broncos will not be forfeiting, per source."
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Schefter also reported that Lock, Bortles and Rypien were not thought to have been wearing masks at the time of their possible exposure.
A person with knowledge of the situation told Associated Press that Lock, Rypien and practice squad member Bortles were pulled off the practice field on Saturday. Denver had previously cancelled two days of practice.
The 8-2 Saints, who have themselves had quarterback issues with Drew Brees currently sidelined, were expected to land in Denver on Saturday evening and prepare for the game as normal.
Denver, who addressed the situation publicly with a statement, were understood to be working with the NFL to find a satisfactory resolution.
ESPN reported on Sunday that the NFL denied the Broncos' request to put offensive quality control coach Rob Calabrese on the active roster to play quarterback.
The Broncos argued Calabrese, who last played quarterback at University of Central Florida in 2012, had the greatest knowledge of the offense.
The network also reported the NFL rejected Denver's plea to move the game to later in the week, in order to allow time for at least one of the quarterbacks to come off the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Denver could yet be penalised with a fine, the loss of a draft pick or both, for failing to comply with the NFL's COVID-19 protocols.