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) scrambles with the ball against the Miami Dolphins in the fourth quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos QB Lock apologizes for not wearing mask

Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock took to Twitter on Sunday to apologize after confirming reports that he did not wear a mask inside the team’s facility during the week.

Lock, along with fellow quarterbacks Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were not eligible to play in Sunday’s game in Denver against the New Orleans Saints after being labeled as high-risk close contacts.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.

“In a controlled and socially distanced area, we let our masking slip for a limited amount of time,” Lock said on twitter.

“An honest mistake, but one I will own. I sincerely apologize and I fully understand why these safety precautions are so important. Doing the right thing for a majority of the time is not good enough.”

Not having Lock nor Rypien or Bortles left the Broncos with no quarterbacks against the Saints. Kendall Hinton, an undrafted rookie receiver who was previously a member of the Broncos’ practice squad, was introduced as the Broncos starting QB before Sunday’s game.

Hinton, previously a quarterback and wide receiver at Wake Forest, threw for 1,504 yards in college and completed 53 percent of his passes.

“I pray for my teammates’ healthy, safety and success today,” Lock said in his statement.

“I look forward to getting back on the field next week. Go Broncos.”

Denver asked if they could activate quality control coach Rob Calabrese to play quarterback, but the request was denied by the NFL.

— 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

Nov 15, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) throws the ball under pressure from Las Vegas Raiders strong safety Johnathan Abram (24) in the fourth quarter at Allegiant Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Broncos 37-12.  Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos QB Lock (ribs) could miss Week 11

Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock is dealing with sore ribs and might miss the team’s Week 11 game, coach Vic Fangio said Monday.

Fangio said Lock is questionable to practice Wednesday. The Broncos (3-6) host the Miami Dolphins (6-3) on Sunday.

“There’s a chance of that, with his injury the way it is,” Fangio told reporters. “It’s an injury that is day-to-day where a lot of improvements can be made, and we’ll see how he does with it.”

Lock played the entire game Sunday in the Broncos’ 37-12 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Lock threw four interceptions though it’s not clear when he hurt his ribs.

Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel back up Lock on the depth chart. Each has a start this season when Lock missed time with a shoulder injury.

Lock now has 10 interceptions on the season to go with seven touchdowns and a meager 55 percent completion rate. Fangio talked postgame about the team’s commitment to Lock despite the struggles.

“We’re committed to Drew — the more he can play, the better he’ll be,” Fangio said after the loss Sunday. “… He’s got to fight through this … and we’re going to continue to play him.”

The Broncos took Lock in the second round of the 2019 NFL draft.

–Field Level Media

Sep 14, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) looks to pass in the fourth quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos QB Lock practices, could start Sunday

Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock returned to practice Wednesday after missing two games with a rotator cuff strain in his right shoulder.

Head coach Vic Fangio said he hasn’t decided who will start Sunday when the Broncos (1-3) travel to face the New England Patriots (2-2).

Lock, 23, was injured when he was sacked in the first half of Denver’s Week 2 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The second-year signal-caller has completed 23 of 38 passes for 236 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in two games this season.

Backup Jeff Driskel, 27, replaced Lock against the Steelers and was sacked six times but threw for 256 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Driskel started the Week 3 game against Tampa Bay and completed 17 of 30 passes for 176 yards, one TD and one pick. Brett Rypien, 24, took over in the fourth quarter in the 28-10 loss to the Buccaneers and was 8 of 9 for 53 yards with one interception.

Rypien got the start last Thursday night against the New York Jets and passed for 242 yards, two TDs and three interceptions in Denver’s 37-28 victory.

–Field Level Media

Sep 20, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree (48) sacks Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) causing a fumble during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Lock would leave the game. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos QB Lock (shoulder) won’t be put on IR

Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock will remain on the active roster, allowing for the possibility that the starter could return in less than three weeks.

Broncos coach Vic Fangio said Wednesday the team “considered putting him on IR.”

This season, players on injured reserve must miss at least three games.

Lock was diagnosed with a rotator cuff strain after he was sacked during the first half of Denver’s loss to Pittsburgh last week. The initial prognosis was that Lock would miss at least two games.

“There’s a chance he might not have to miss three games,” Fangio said. “At the same point, there’s a chance he might have to miss four or five. So rather than eliminate the possibility of him coming back if he’s healthy enough, we’ve kept him on the active roster, at this point.”

The Broncos reportedly are poised to sign Blake Bortles as backup to Jeff Driskel in Lock’s absence, once the former No. 3 overall draft pick in 2014 clears testing protocols for COVID-19.

Driskel, 27, replaced Lock against the Steelers and was sacked six times but completed 18 of 34 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. The Broncos host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3 before visiting the New York Jets and New England Patriots.

Bortles, 28, spent five seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars before backing up Jared Goff for the Los Angeles Rams in 2019. He appeared briefly in three games, attempting just two passes.

–Field Level Media

Sep 20, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree (48) sacks Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) causing a fumble during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Lock would leave the game. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos QB Lock injures shoulder, ruled out vs. Steelers

Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock sustained a right shoulder injury and has been ruled out for the remainder of Sunday’s game against the host Pittsburgh Steelers.

Lock was injured on Denver’s second drive midway through the first quarter after he was sacked by Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree. Lock stumbled before fumbling the ball, which was recovered by Pittsburgh.

Lock went to the blue tent on the sideline before retreating to the locker room. He completed 1 of 5 passes for 20 yards before being replaced by Jeff Driskel.

–Field Level Media

Dec 22, 2019; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) on the bench in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos’ Fangio not counting out Miller for season – yet

The devastating ankle injury sustained by Denver Broncos star pass rusher Von Miller leaves little room for optimism, however coach Vic Fangio said the team isn’t ready to count him out for the season.

“There’s a chance (that he misses the 2020 season). It’s too early to say for sure. He’s definitely out for a while,” Fangio said Wednesday.

Miller is seeking a second opinion from noted foot/ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson on Thursday in Green Bay, Wis. Miller likely will need surgery, which Fangio said would happen “sooner rather than later” should the second opinion agree with the initial diagnosis.

“It was a normal play,” Fangio said of when Miller was injured during Tuesday’s practice. “He just rushed around the edge and never hit the ground and never looked bad. If you saw the video, you’d think nothing happened, but it did.”

Broncos quarterback Drew Lock said the team was devastated by Miller’s injury.

“Without a doubt, it’s a punch in the gut for everybody just knowing how good of a teammate he is and how good of a leader he is for this team,” Lock said. “Personally, for him, I talked to him a lot in the offseason. He was gunning, he was ready to go. He was extremely excited. It was a new focus from Von.

“I think when you almost hit double digits (in seasons), it becomes real life for you, and he was excited. It hurts our team and our spirits with just how much we cared for the guy. Life goes on. He’s going to work to get back on the field as fast as possible and we have to work to win games.”

Miller, 31, has a base salary of $17.5 million this season, the fifth of a six-year, $114 million deal he signed in July of 2016.

The eight-time Pro Bowler and former Super Bowl MVP has a franchise-record 106 sacks for the Broncos in nine seasons since being the No. 2 overall choice of the 2011 NFL Draft. Miller also has 490 tackles, 26 forced fumbles, nine fumble recoveries and two interceptions.

Miller has two career touchdowns — one on an interception and one on a fumble.

Last season, Miller had eight sacks. That total was the second lowest of his career. His high was 18.5 in 2012.

The Broncos open the season on Monday night against the visiting Tennessee Titans.

–Field Level Media

2019 NFL Draft Preview – QB

Despite the weight of a uniquely never-ending draft grind, there’s something poetic about the start of a new collegiate cycle that attracts a total spectrum of fans, from the educated onlookers to the full-blown draft degenerates (such as myself).
As such, we proceed with a detailed evaluation of my introductory positional rankings – coming out one group at a time, beginning with quarterbacks.
So, to (inaccurately) quote the great Matthew McConaughey: “I’ll write, I’ll write, I’ll write.”
 
QUARTERBACK
Overview:
Five teams selected a first-round passer in the 2018 class and my suspicion is that it was a partial indictment of the potential 2019 crop. Presently, we’re faced with a quarterback class asking numerous questions of evaluators – who only seem to agree about being unable to distinguish who will emerge on top.
Simply put, there are a handful of quarterbacks with the potential to rise above the class, but most require a step-forward season in 2019 in order for that to happen. This year’s preseason quarterback evaluation requires more projection than most years I’ve studied the NFL Draft, which personally elicits equal levels of excitement and indignation.
1. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn (6’3″ 215lbs.)
• Will be hit with the ‘system’ tag, but he completes a high degree of attempts and rapidly immersed himself in Gus Malzahn’s intricate passing offense. I don’t see a quarterback with better ‘feel’ for his position in this class right now.
2. Justin Herbert, Oregon (6’6″ 225lbs.)
• Possesses all of the tantalizing physical traits evaluators want in a franchise passer: size, arm and athleticism. Also boasts a smooth delivery and statistical accuracy. If he takes the next step this season it’ll be tough to value another passer more.
3. Will Grier, West Virginia (6’2″ 214lbs.)
• The ex-Florida Gator was highly prolific throughout his first season in Morgantown, forming a good connection with stud receiver David Sills. Everything’s on a rope; makes NFL-esque window throws, but needs to learn that not every pass needs to be a bullet.
4. Drew Lock, Missouri (6’4″ 225lbs.)
• Ticks all of the prototype passer boxes, possessing ideal size, arm talent and an ever-present inclination to push the ball downfield. Must overcome issues relating to accuracy (both in-game and statistical), but did suffer from receiver drops last year.
5. Brian Lewerke, Michigan State (6’3″ 215lbs.)
• Underclassmen who must drastically improve accuracy, but showed plenty of promise in his ten-win Sophomore campaign. Moves through reads in rapid-fire. Will take a hit to deliver an accurate pass. Nice pocket footwork, but liable to hurt a defense with them too.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Finley, North Carolina State (6’4″ 210lbs.)
• Boise State transfer with prolific aerial numbers. Major positive is his compact, lightning-quick release and decisive style – always aware of quick-read options and fall-back outlets. Has many physical tools at his disposal. Downfield ball placement is inconsistent.
 
Find me on Twitter: @NFLDraftUpdate