Coronavirus: Denver Broncos’ 3 QBs ineligible for Sunday’s game

DENVER — The Denver Broncos, already having a tough year, received some more bad news on Saturday. The team’s three eligible quarterbacks were deemed to be “high risk” after coming in contact with Jeff Driskel who tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday and will not play Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, the Broncos said.

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The three quarterbacks -- Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles -- were not wearing masks while coming in contact with Driskel on Wednesday, according to ESPN.

The Broncos (4-6) will be forced to use a player out of position. One option is practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton, who played three seasons of quarterback at Wake Forest, KUSA reported. The team’s current emergency quarterback is running back Royce Freeman, the television station reported.

The Broncos could also use running backs Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay out of a Wildcat formation, KUSA reported.

The Broncos, represented by president/CEO Joe Ellis and general manager John Elway, had a conference call with NFL executives on Saturday afternoon, The Denver Post reported. The league benched Lock, the team’s starter; Rypien, the backup; and Bortles, the practice squad QB, the newspaper reported.

Lock had been expected to start against the Saints, KDVR reported.

The three quarterbacks were pulled from practice on Saturday morning and were told to isolate at home, ESPN reported.

The game, scheduled to be played in Denver, will still go ahead, ESPN and NFL.com reported.

Broncos tight end Noah Fant was unhappy with the decision, tweeting that the NFL “can’t possibly send us into a game without a QB.”

Fant later joked on Twitter about the availability of retired quarterback Peyton Manning.

“Laughing but serious,” Fant tweeted.

Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy tweeted that he was going to “have to get my Lamar Jackson on,” referring to the NFL’s reigning MVP. The Baltimore Ravens quarterback, however, has been placed on the COVID-19 reserve list and will not play Tuesday against the unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers.

Linebacker Von Miller, meanwhile, jokingly volunteered his services behind center.

“Been waiting my whole life for this moment. ‘Von Elway,’” Miller said, referencing Elway, who, in addition to being the team’s GM, was also the team’s Hall of Fame quarterback who played in five Super Bowls, winning twice. “I’m a passing QB, don’t need to run much. Ankle is good for QB.”

The Saints (8-2), winners of seven straight games, had been six-point favorites in the game before Saturday’s announcement. They were made two-touchdown favorites by most Las Vegas sportsbooks Saturday evening, ESPN reported.

More coronavirus pandemic coverage:

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>> Coronavirus: CDC updates guidance for COVID-19 testing

>> Dangerous hand sanitizer list up to more than 150 products, FDA announces

>> Wash your masks: How to clean a cloth face covering

>> Fact check: Will masks lower the oxygen level, raise the carbon dioxide in your blood?

>> How to not let coronavirus pandemic fatigue set in, battle back if it does

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