Dec 6, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Rams place WR Kupp on COVID-19 list

In advance of a possible must-win Week 17 game in order to advance to the playoffs, the Los Angeles Rams placed top wide receiver Cooper Kupp on the COVID-19/reserve list and signed veteran quarterback Blake Bortles to serve as a backup.

The Rams could have secured a playoff spot with victories in either of their last two games, but lost both, including one to the previously winless New York Jets. Now they face the Arizona Cardinals at home Sunday, with the season possibly on the line.

Kupp has been an integral part of an offense that has struggled of late. He has a team-best 92 receptions for 974 yards and three touchdowns.

The team has not said if Kupp tested positive or was in close contact with somebody who did. He is in self-quarantine and could possibly play Sunday if it was a close-contact situation and he later tests negative for COVID-19, while not showing symptoms.

If Kupp does play, he will be catching passes from backup quarterback John Wolford, who has never taken a snap in a regular-season game. Wolford is replacing starter Jared Goff, who had thumb surgery this week and was ruled out of Sunday’s game.

Bortles was signed off the Denver Broncos practice squad but is expected to be the third-string option behind Wolford and Bryce Perkins.

After five seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Bortles spent last season with the Rams but saw action on just 11 snaps in three games with one 3-yard completion on two pass attempts.

The Rams will be without running back Darrell Henderson (ankle), who was placed on injured reserve, and could be without running back Cam Akers (ankle) as well after the rookie did not play in last week’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

The Rams can reach the playoffs with a victory over the Cardinals or a Chicago Bears loss to the Green Bay Packers.

–Field Level Media

Oct 1, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Jeff Driskel (9) throws the ball before the game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos fine every QB for violating COVID protocols

The Denver Broncos on Wednesday announced they have fined every quarterback for violating the league’s COVID-19 protocols.

Starting QB Drew Lock, backups Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel as well as practice squad player Blake Bortles were all docked an undisclosed amount after all four missed last week’s game in the aftermath of Driskel testing positive for the virus.

“It was a mistake,” Broncos coach Vic Fangio said Wednesday. “We paid a price for it with what happened in the game. It’s time for all of us to move on.”

Video from a position meeting revealed none of the QBs were wearing a mask before Driskel tested positive. The other three were deemed high-risk close contacts and forced to quarantine for five days. The Broncos were forced to play Kendall Hinton at quarterback in the 31-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Hinton completed one pass for 13 yards for the entire game.

The Broncos also announced that Bortles will not practice with the team and remain at home in the role of emergency quarterback in the event Lock or Rypien test positive ahead of Sunday’s game against the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs. Lock is expected to start.

The team will also hold virtual meetings this week and for the foreseeable future and ordered that any independent film work be conducted virtually.

The team is also bringing in kicker Taylor Russolino to serve as emergency kicker in the event Brandon McManus is placed on reserve/COVID-19. Russolino hit 9 of 10 field goals for the St. Louis BattleHawks in the XFL early in 2020.

–Field Level Media

Nov 29, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio looks on before a game against the New Orleans Saints at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Team discipline for Broncos QBs ‘on the table,’ Fangio says

Additional discipline is possible for a trio of Denver Broncos quarterbacks who were held out of Sunday’s game because of COVID-19 concerns, head coach Vic Fangio said Monday.

All three quarterbacks — Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles — were inactive for Sunday’s 31-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints. The trio tested negative for COVID-19 on Monday, Fangio said, and will have to test negative again Tuesday before returning to team activities.

Fangio said the players still could face team discipline.

“We’re going to consider all that and, again, try to see what the league, if they have anything planned and if not, we’ll take our measures,” Fangio said.

That could include a fine or, less likely, a one-game suspension.

“Everything’s on the table, but right now I would say it’s more the fine mode,” Fangio said.

Each quarterback was deemed “high risk” after a meeting that included fellow quarterback Jeff Driskel, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. None of the quarterbacks wore masks during the meeting.

The Broncos were forced to turn to practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton to play quarterback against the Saints. Hinton, who played quarterback for three seasons at Wake Forest before changing positions, finished 1 of 9 for 13 yards and two interceptions.

Fangio was asked whether the team might quarantine one if its quarterbacks to avoid another situation like Sunday’s. He said the team would consider that option going forward.

“But I think if we just follow the protocols, we’ll be fine,” he added.

–Field Level Media

Nov 22, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) in the third quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Broncos QBs pulled from practice amid COVID-19 concerns

Three Denver Broncos quarterbacks — Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles — were pulled off the field moments before the start of Saturday’s practice because of COVID-19 concerns, according to a report from KUSA-TV in Denver.

The move came as part of contact tracing procedures after Broncos quarterback Jeff Driskel tested positive for the virus earlier in the week. Lock, Rypien and Bortles have been taking additional tests since Thursday and have tested negative since then, the network reported.

The Broncos (4-6) are scheduled to host the New Orleans Saints (8-2) on Sunday afternoon. No changes to the game’s status have been announced.

Lock has started eight games this season, completing 55.6 percent of his passes for 1,767 yards with seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Driskel and Rypien made one start each.

Bortles is on the Broncos’ practice squad. He has thrown for 103 touchdowns and 75 interceptions in six NFL seasons.

–Field Level Media

Dec 1, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Blake Bortles (5) looks on during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos release QB Bortles, promote DL Williams

The Denver Broncos released veteran quarterback Blake Bortles on Saturday.

In a corresponding move, the team promoted defensive lineman Sylvester Williams to the active roster from the practice squad.

Bortles, 28, signed with the Broncos after quarterback Drew Lock sprained the rotator cuff in his right shoulder in the Week 2 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bortles hasn’t been active since his signing, and Lock could return on Sunday for the Broncos (1-3) against the New England Patriots (2-2).

Bortles, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft by Jacksonville, spent the 2019 season on the roster of the Los Angeles Rams. He has a 24-49 record in 73 games as a starter.

A first-round draft pick in 2013, Williams began his career with the Broncos, starting 48 games over four seasons with 94 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 17 tackles for loss and 14 quarterback hits. He was a starter on the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 championship team.

He signed with the Tennessee Titans in 2017 and since then, also has played with the Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers.

Williams, 31, signed on to the Denver practice squad on Oct. 3.

–Field Level Media