Broncos, Patriots finally set to play football after PPDs
After two postponements due to COVID-19 positive tests in New England, the Patriots and Denver Broncos are ready to play Sunday in Foxborough, Mass.
The teams were originally scheduled to play on Oct. 11, and then the game was pushed to the 12th because of the positive coronavirus cases within the New England organization. Another positive test that Sunday forced the game to be moved to Week 6.
The Patriots have not had any positive tests since so the game is finally set to be played, but not without major schedule juggling by the NFL. Week 6 was supposed to be a Patriots’ bye while the Broncos played in Miami against the Dolphins.
The unexpected week off gave Denver quarterback Drew Lock extra time to make his return to the lineup. Lock was beginning to practice after missing two games with a right shoulder injury but was iffy to play if the game were last week.
He practiced Wednesday, and while coach Vic Fangio wouldn’t say Lock would start, the quarterback said he was ready to go for the Broncos (1-3).
“It feels good just to be doing what I love, doing what I feel like I was put down here to do,” Lock said after Wednesday’s practice. “Great to be back with the guys, calling plays in the huddle … gets pretty lonely back there with the headset.
“I am ready for the first hit, just to get it out of there, let it happen, let everyone hold their breath for a couple seconds and when I get up, everything is just fine.”
The week off also gave tight end Noah Fant time to heal from an ankle injury and allowed running back Phillip Lindsay another seven days to come back from a turf toe injury. Both were practicing Wednesday but wide receiver KJ Hamler (hamstring) did not.
Lindsay’s return comes with running back Melvin Gordon’s murky status following his citation for a DUI on Tuesday night.
“We’ll weigh the differences between what the mandated league punishment will be and anything we want to do in addition to that,” Fangio said Wednesday. “I’m disappointed, but my own two kids have disappointed me at some points in their life, but I never stopped loving them anymore. He’s one of us. We’re going to love him, but there will be some consequences to what happened (Tuesday) night.”
While the Broncos are happy to have Lock back, the time off has given quarterback Cam Newton a chance to return for the Patriots (2-2). Newton was one of the first New England players to test positive for COVID-19 and though he was asymptomatic, he would not have played if the game took place in Week 5.
Newton was expected to rejoin the team on Thursday.
The Patriots have had four players put on the reserve/COVID-19 list — Newton, cornerback Stephon Gilmore, defensive tackle Byron Cowart and practice squad defensive lineman Bill Murray.
With Cowart on the COVID-19 list and Adam Butler dealing with a shoulder injury, New England was thin on the defensive line, so the team signed defensive tackle Carl Davis off the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad.
Despite the coronavirus cases on the team, the Patriots players are happy with how head coach Bill Belichick has handled the situation.
“He’s been great,” running back Rex Burkhead said. “He really has just put our safety, our family’s safety first, and he’s been in constant communication with us on doing whatever he can or whatever the team can to put in things in place to keep us safe.”
If New England has Newton back it will be a significant upgrade from the loss at Kansas City on Oct. 5. Backup Brian Hoyer was pulled in the second half but his replacement, Jarrett Stidham, also struggled.
–Field Level Media