The Broncos won Saturday. Amid a virus sudden increase ahead of the Week 17 road showdown against the Chargers, Denver didn’t place any more players on the COVID-19/save list.
Denver activated rookie outside linebacker Andre Mintze from the COVID list/injured save, amid a flurry of other list moves. And the Broncos didn’t lose No. 1 wideout Courtland Sutton, whom coach Vic Fangio said might be going on the COVID list this weekend.
nevertheless, the Broncos (7-8) go into Sunday’s game at SoFi Stadium down nine starters and with 16 players on the COVID-19/save list, 14 of them from the active list.
Three starters — wideout Jerry Jeudy, outside linebacker Bradley Chubb and inside linebacker Baron Browning — tested positive Friday, after two starters tested positive Thursday (right tackle Bobby Massie and cornerback Bryce Callahan) and the Broncos canceled practice for the first time this season.
Nose tackle Mike Purcell tested positive Monday but could be obtainable to play Sunday under the NFL’s new protocols for vaccinated players. Practice squad lineman Jonathan Harris, activated from the COVID list and elevated to the main list Saturday, will provide thoroughness up front defensively.
Wednesday’s positives, which included wideout Tim Patrick and dime back Caden Sterns, will be out. Plus, starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is sidelined (concussion protocol), meaning backup Drew Lock will get his second start this season after the Broncos lost 17-13 in Las Vegas last week to all but snuff out their playoff hopes.
The absence of Jeudy and Patrick will have the Broncos’ wideout corps looking completely different on Sunday. While Sutton is the unit’s top target, Kendall Hinton and returner Diontae Spencer will be Lock’s main receivers with Teddy Bridgewater sidelined in concussion protocol, while rookie Seth Williams will make his NFL debut and Rico Gafford (practice squad elevation) is in line for his Broncos debut.
In addition to activating Mintze and Harris, and the elevation of Gafford, the Broncos made a number of other moves to fill out their list. Tackle Quinn Bailey, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, tackle Drew Himmelman, defensive end Marquiss Spencer and inside linebacker Barrington Wade were elevated from the practice squad as COVID replacements, and cornerback Rojesterman Farris was a standard elevation.
Mintze will see snaps at outside linebacker with Bradley Chubb and Jonathon Cooper both on the COVID list, while Bailey will be the backup swing tackle behind right tackle Cam Fleming (starting for Massie) and left tackle Garett Bolles. With Browning in protocols and Kenny Young questionable (concussion), Wade provides thoroughness at inside linebacker behind Micah Kiser and Justin Strand.
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