The Denver Broncos are now faced with arguably the toughest challenge that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on an NFL team this season. On the eve of Denver's Week 12 matchup with the New Orleans Saints, every quarterback on the roster has been ruled ineligible to play on Sunday after being deemed high risk, close contacts, as confirmed by CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. On Thursday, quarterback Jeff Driskel was placed on the reserve/COVID list due to a positive test.
Mike Klis of 9News reports that the Broncos pulled all three of their quarterbacks -- Drew Lock, Brett Rypien, and Blake Bortles -- from the practice field on Saturday and were sent home due to contact tracing concerns. The NFL, per Klis, reviewed tape of Lock, Rypien and Bortles interacting with Driskel on Wednesday and that is what sprung the decision to send them home and ultimately rule them out for Week 12. Schefter adds that the trio of quarterbacks were not wearing masks.
Despite not having a quarterback to go under center on Sunday, the Broncos will not be forfeiting, per Schefter. As for what the next steps are at figuring out a plan at quarterback, Benjamin Allbright of KOA Colorado notes that receiver Kendall Hinton will play plenty at quarterback on Sunday. Hinton played some QB at Wake Forest and completed 53% of his passes for 1,504 yards passing, eight touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Other options include third-string running back Royce Freeman, who is the emergency quarterback for the Broncos. Denver could also run a Wildcat offense centered around Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon if they so chose.
According to Klis, offensive quality control coach Rob Calabrese ran the offense in practice on Saturday and did play quarterback at Central Flordia, but James Palmer of the NFL Network reports that he could not be called into action as an emergency quarterback or anything of the sort.
While they'll certainly be impacted the most in Week 12, the Broncos aren't the only team dealing with COVID-19 issues currently as the NFL seems to be feeling the same surge that is hitting most of the country. Their opponent in the New Orleans Saints had to rule out star left tackle Terron Armstead due to a positive test that popped up on Saturday. In an attempt to curb more positive tests throughout the league, the NFL had already sent out a memo to teams that they would be halting in-person activities this coming Monday and Tuesday.