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NFL Week 12 overreactions: This will not be Mahomes and Chiefs last trip to Tampa this season
SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Mackenzie Salmon goes around the league and breaks down all the biggest story lines from Week 12 in the NFL.
Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said Wednesday the team fined starting quarterback Drew Lock and the three other passers on the roster for their failure to observe COVID-19 mask protocol that resulted in all players being ineligible for their loss against the Saints Sunday.
“We fined them following the same fine schedule that we’ve had with other COVID violations with other players throughout the season,” Fangio said.
Lock, backup Brett Rypien, third-stringer Jeff Driskel and practice-squad quarterback Blake Bortles were all placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list after Driskel tested positive Nov. 26, three days before the Broncos hosted the Saints. Because all of the quarterbacks had met in the quarterbacks’ meeting room, Lock, Rypien and Bortles were considered close, high-risk contacts.
When all four players met on Nov. 25 to watch film, they did not consistently wear masks around one another, resulting in Lock, Rypien and Bortles being placed on the COVID-19 list on Saturday, the day before the game.
Lock later apologized for the mask violation.
The Broncos were then forced to start practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton, who played quarterback during some of his time at Wake Forest. Hinton completed just one of nine passes for 13 yards and two interceptions in a 31-3 Broncos loss.
Though Fangio had previously said that he wouldn’t want to quarantine a quarterback to prevent what happened on Sunday, Denver is taking an approach with Bortles that is very close to that.
“One thing we’re going to do today, and we’re going to do it on a day-to-day basis, Blake is not going to come into the building today from home after the virtual meetings,” he said.
Fangio declined to say that Bortles would be fully quarantined, noting that he would head to the facility to get tested and eat but wouldn’t practice as the organization tried to “limit his exposure” to the rest of the team.
Fangio said all Broncos players produced negative tests and that Lock would reclaim his role as the starter ahead of Sunday’s matchup against the AFC West-rival Kansas City Chiefs.
“I think we’re in position to move past this,” Fangio said. “Obviously the meetings today have been virtual; we haven’t seen the players yet. But I believe the guys are ready to move past this. It was a mistake. We paid a price for it with what happened with the game. It’s time for all of us to move on.”