It's Thanksgiving Day across the United States but for the Denver Broncos, it's a workday. With the 8-2 New Orleans Saints coming to town this Sunday, Vic Fangio and company have to keep their focus on the matchup.
On Thursday, as Fangio unveiled the practice report for the day, a new name appeared as a non-participant — quarterback Jeff Driskel. The veteran signal-caller has been placed in COVID-19 protocol and will self-isolate.
The next question was, does Driskel's status put any other player, especially, any other quarterbacks, at risk for the COVID-19 list?
“No, [we’ve] been working on this—‘Greek’ (Director of Sports Medicine Steve Antonopulos) and our people here along with [NFL Chief Medical Officer] Dr. [Allen] Sills and other people in the league since about 4 a.m. this morning," Fangio said via Zoom. "They have determined that nobody else has to go on the list. They cleared us to practice."
Based on contact-tracing, the Broncos have been assured that Drew Lock, Brett Rypien, and Blake Bortles are good to go and continue their preparation for Week 12's bout with the Saints.
“No, the other quarterbacks were only on there minimal amounts, like two minutes and some seconds—four minutes," Fangio explained. "That's over a three or four-day period. They thoroughly checked those guys that were on the two minutes, three minutes, four minutes, and they came back and said nobody else needs to go on the list and they cleared us to have normal activities and normal practice today.”
The Broncos have maintained an intensive protocol with regard to the virus, with players, coaches, and staffers required to mask up in the building, as well as maintaining social distance among other precautions. Even on the practice field, the team does its best to mitigate player-on-player contact wherever possible.
9NEWS' Mike Klis reported further details on Driskel's condition and results of the team's contact tracing.
Driskel has no symptoms, feels completely healthy and was surprised to be placed on the COVID list, a source told 9NEWS.
It was determined Driskel did not have any contact tracing concerns with the team’s other quarterbacks and the Broncos were cleared to practice Thursday in preparation of their game Sunday afternoon against the New Orleans Saints.
The Broncos have been touched by the coronavirus but for the most part, the team has done an excellent job collectively to keep the bug out of the building. Shelby Harris has missed the last three games after contracting the virus, while coaches like Ed Donatell,, Mike Munchak and Curtis Modkins have also.
Donatell is still recovering from his scary bout with the virus, which landed him in the hospital on a short-term stay. The defensive coordinator has since been discharged and is on the mend, but the bug has also touched the executive branch of the team, including GM John Elway and CEO Joe Ellis.
However, the Broncos have managed to stave off a bona-fide outbreak within the locker room, which is an achievement and a testament to the collective effort of all the players, coaches, and staffers to be conscientious and cautious in their exposure to people outside the building. Fangio credited Greek, V.P. of Human Resources Nancy Svoboda, and V.P. of Operations and Compliance Mark Thewes for the team's execution of the COVID-19 protocols and safeguards while recognizing how selfless and disciplined the players have been.
"I think we as coaches have done a decent job of enforcing it and making our players aware of it, but ultimately, 90 percent of the credit needs to go to the players because we've had minimal cases of it," Fangio said. "And knock on wood—,hopefully that will continue, but we know that it could happen at any time with anybody. Our players have done a great job for the most part of trying to do the right thing as it relates to COVID and up to this point they deserve all the credit.”