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Nightmare for Broncos as COVID-19 crisis wreaks havoc, and NFL could take bigger hits

By Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Football

Imagine air traffic control trying to talk a passenger through landing a 747.

Now you understand the nightmare of the Denver Broncos.

With all four of their quarterbacks on the COVID-19 list, the Broncos limped through a game against New Orleans on Sunday with a practice-squad receiver taking the snaps.

The results were predictable. Kendall Hinton, who played some quarterback at Wake Forest before switching to receiver, completed one pass for 13 yards and was intercepted twice in a 31-3 defeat.

It was a mad scramble for Hinton, who estimated he was working with one-tenth of the playbook, or 20 to 30 plays. He did what he could but was faced with a near-impossible challenge.

"I would not say this is how I planned it out in my dreams," said Hinton, who played three years of quarterback at Wake Forest before changing positions. "But it usually doesn't work out how you want it."

 

Denver coach Vic Fangio said Hinton "did everything he could," considering he had only about four hours of preparation.

"He was excited for it," Fangio said. "We were excited for him; his teammates were excited for him. That's a big, big ask and it just didn't work out."

The seeds of crisis were sown last week when third-stringer Jeff Driskel tested positive for the coronavirus. Subsequently, the other three Broncos quarterbacks — starter Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles — were added to the COVID list as high-risk contacts with an infected teammate. According to reports, they broke NFL rules by not wearing masks in meeting rooms and were evasive during the contact-tracing process.

"We count on them to be the leaders of our team, the leaders of our offense," Fangio said, "and those guys made a mistake."

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