Wed Dec 2 4:07pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock, center, jokes with backup quarterbacks Jeff Driskel, left, and Brett Rypien during an NFL football practice in Englewood, Colo., in this Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, file photo. The Broncos activated three quarterbacksstarter Lock and backups Rypien and Blake Bortlesfrom the COVID-19 list Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, to insure that the team will not be without quarterbacks on the roster for the game against the Chiefs in Kansas City on Sunday as the Broncos were last Sunday when hosting the New Orleans Saints. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Many viewers cringed at Denver's ugly loss to the Saints behind a rookie receiver pressed into duty because every Broncos quarterback was barred by the NFL over coronavirus concerns.
Among them was Drew Lock.
''It hurt my heart, hurt my soul,'' the Broncos starter said Wednesday. ''It was tough. It was really tough. It wasn't something that I enjoyed doing. I would much rather have been out there on the field helping my teammates out.''
Lock and backup Brett Rypien returned to the practice field about an hour later, but veteran practice squad QB Blake Bortles was isolated in case the Broncos run into another quarterback quandary this season.
The trio served what was essentially a one-game banishment for not wearing their masks last week around QB Jeff Driskel, who tested positive for the coronavirus on Thanksgiving.
In addition to isolating Bortles, the Broncos began putting QB Kyle Shurmur, son of offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, through COVID-19 protocols to possibly be signed later in the week. A three-year starter at Vanderbilt, Shurmur spent last season on the Chiefs' practice squad.
The Broncos' four QBs went into work on their day off last Tuesday to watch film, but they didn't have their masks on the entire time. After Driskel's positive test, a league investigation deemed Lock, Rypien and Bortles as high-risk close contacts and ordered them into quarantine Saturday.
The QBs were pulled off the practice field Saturday and the Broncos scrambled to get Kendall Hinton up to speed on a truncated playbook that mostly involved hand-offs.
Hinton, who played quarterback at Wake Forest, was promoted from the practice squad shortly before kickoff and completed just three passes, two of them to the Saints in Denver's 31-3 loss.
Hinton returned to catching passes, not throwing them, when he went back to the practice squad Wednesday.
Coach Vic Fangio, who fined his QBs this week for violating COVID-19 rules, called out his quarterbacks after the game for putting the team and the league in a precarious position, something that upset Lock's mother, Laura, who defended her son on social media.
Lock said he had no problem with anything Fangio said.
''He's my boss. He's the leader of this team and whatever he says goes,'' Lock said. ''I feel like we were taking a little bit of leadership by coming in and getting ready by ourselves and doing that by ourselves on a day when everyone else was at home. So, that shows leadership.
''But again, we didn't do the right thing, we didn't have them on the whole time we were in there.''
As for his mother coming to his defense, Lock said, ''Moms will be moms. That's just a fact. They're going to back up their kid. They're going to stand up for their kid regardless of the situation, and my mom is a fiery human. There's never a game where I played bad and wasn't more scared of her than my dad.''
Lock praised Hinton for stepping in on very little notice and making his NFL debut at the league's toughest position - against the NFC's top team, no less.
''Gosh, he had to go out there, not take a rep at quarterback, play against one of the best defensea in the league. What else can you ask this guy to do?'' Lock said. ''I mean, he went out and he played his butt off.''
Lock said he was sitting in his vehicle Monday awaiting results of his rapid COVID-19 test when he saw Hinton and told him, ''It takes a lot of guts and a lot of heart to go out there and do what you did in the circumstances you did.''
Fangio said he was disappointed the events of last weekend ''overshadows all the good work everybody has done here, starting with the players'' to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
''That part bugs me a little bit, but hey, it is what it is,'' Fangio said. ''We had that mistake with the quarterbacks and we have to own it.''
Team president Joe Ellis, who battled the coronavirus last month, met with Fangio and general manager John Elway on Monday and said, ''While it's easy to point fingers, all of us must take responsibility and work together to prevent it from happening again.''
NOTES: Fangio said CB Bryce Callahan (foot) will miss one to two weeks minimum. ... DE Shelby Harris returned to practice after missing four weeks with the coronavirus. ... RB Phillip Lindsay (knee) is expected to play Sunday when the Broncos (4-7) visit K.C. (10-1). ... DC Ed Donatell is back part time after COVID-19 sidelined him all last month. ... Fangio said Von Miller hasn't been cleared medically to return to practice. Miller has made it his goal to play this season after a freak ankle injury six days before the opener.
Five Waiver Wire Adds: Week 13
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (hamstring) has an outside chance to play in Week 13 against the Seahawks, but he didn't practice on Wednesday. Jones is becoming more of a long shot to play this weekend, but he could be questionable if he can get in some limited practice work later this week. Fantasy managers shouldn't be counting on Jones for their Week 13 lineups, though, with the expectation that backup Colt McCoy will receive the start against Seattle. The good news is that Jones has a good shot of missing just one game. McCoy would be nothing more than a low-end QB2 desperation streamer in superflex leagues, while all of New York's pass-catchers should be downgraded in your weekly rankings.
Baltimore Ravens running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram II are not active for Wednesday's game against the Steelers despite being eligible to return from the COVID-19 list. Dobbins and Ingram didn't travel with the team on Tuesday night because it was the final day of their 10-day quarantine after testing positive for the virus. They haven't been put on the active roster and neither has practiced since the overtime loss to the Titans 10 days ago. The rookie Dobbins figures to take over as the team's lead back down the stretch, while Ingram has been slowly phased out of the offense. Gus Edwards will get the start against Pittsburgh and has rushed for 217 yards and a touchdown in his last two games against the Steelers. Justice Hill will back up Edwards, who will have RB2 upside for fantasy managers that stuck with him despite Baltimore's COVID-19 outbreak this week.
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said running back Dalvin Cook's (ankle) "health is fine" after offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said that Cook is "beat up." Cook is averaging almost 25 touches per game and has played 64.7 percent of the offensive snaps this year, ranking second in the NFL in total rushing attempts (219). He's second in the league in rushing yards, and he and Derrick Henry are the only two backs over 1,000 yards through 12 weeks. The 25-year-old left the game shortly in Week 12 with an ankle injury, but he returned and said that he's good to go for a great matchup with the Jaguars this Sunday. Jacksonville's defense has been better against the run in the last five weeks, but they've allowed the sixth-most fantasy points per game to the position in 2020. Cook remains an elite high-end, must-start RB1.
Cincinnati Bengals OG Xavier Su'a-Filo (ankle) has been activated from the Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, Dec. 2. The team also placed WR Auden Tate (shoulder) on the Reserve/Injured list.
Miami Dolphins rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (thumb) took part in the portion of practice open to the media on Wednesday and was wearing black tape around his left wrist and lower part of his left thumb. Tagovailoa missed the Week 12 win over the Jets after jamming his thumb in practice last week. Miami is being cautious with their franchise QB, but it looks like he has a good chance to return to action in Week 13 against the Bengals. Cincinnati's defense has allowed 22 passing touchdowns (tied for sixth-most), but Tagovailoa was benched late in the Week 11 loss to the Broncos and hasn't thrown for over 248 yards in any of his four starts so far. If the Alabama product plays this weekend, expect the Dolphins to take as much off his plate as possible in the winnable matchup. He won't be a smart play as a streamer in single-QB leagues.
Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad RB Wendell Smallwood and OT Anthony Coyle were added to the active roster Wednesday, Dec. 2, as COVID-19 replacements for the Week 12 game.
New York Giants head coach Joe Judge said that quarterback Colt McCoy will see the majority of the first-team repetitions in practice on Wednesday, with some also going to Clayton Thorson. Daniel Jones (hamstring) is recovering from a hamstring injury he suffered in the Week 12 win over the Bengals and is not expected to play in Week 13 against the Seahawks. All signs are pointing toward McCoy, 34, making the start against Seattle after he relieved Jones last Sunday. He'll be asked to be more of a game manager, though, and will have a very low ceiling and floor for fantasy managers considering him as a desperation low-end QB2 in superflex leagues. With McCoy likely under center for the G-Men this weekend, the Seahawks Defense will be a popular streaming unit in fantasy.
Philadelphia Eagles TE Zach Ertz (ankle) was activated from the Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, Dec. 2.
Fantasy Spin: Ertz has a chance to play in the Week 13 game, but fantasy players will know more about his status later in the week. He has had a disappointing season so far but could still be a low-end No. 1 tight end in some leagues.
The Indianapolis Colts activated rookie running back Jonathan Taylor from the Reserve/COVID-19 list, and he will practice on Wednesday. Taylor missed the 45-26 Week 12 loss to the Titans after testing positive for the virus. The rookie leads the team with 135 carries for 518 rushing yards and four touchdowns in 2020. In his last appearance against Green Bay in Week 11, Taylor had 22 carries for 90 yards as the team's lead back. Indy will go back to a three-headed monster of Taylor, Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins in there backfield, making things tough to predict for fantasy managers. They'll be facing a Texans Defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to running backs, so Taylor will be on the map as a shaky RB3/flex with upside, depending on how many touches he receives in his return.
The Philadelphia Eagles activated tight end Zach Ertz (ankle) off Injured Reserve on Wednesday and activated wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside off the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Right tackle Lane Johnson (ankle) was also put on IR. Ertz has missed the last five games with a high-ankle sprain, but he's been practicing the last two weeks. The Eagles are likely to favor 12 and 13 personnel groupings with Ertz back in the lineup. Dallas Goedert and Richard Rodgers have been the team's top pass-catchers since they returned from the bye in Week 10. Ertz's return will hurt Goedert's fantasy ceiling, making both Ertz and Goedert more of low-end TE1s heading into Week 13 against the Packers. Green Bay has allowed just three touchdowns to tight ends this year, and Ertz hasn't topped 70 receiving yards in a game with just one TD on the season.
Cincinnati Bengals WR Auden Tate (shoulder) is expected to undergo shoulder surgery in the next few weeks and will be placed on the Reserve/Injured list, according to a source.
The Pittsburgh Steelers placed center Maurkice Pouncey on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday, according to a source. It's unclear if Pouncey actually tested positive for COVID-19, but either way he will be out for the game against the Ravens. Running back Wendell Smallwood and offensive lineman Anthony Coyle have been elevated to the game-day roster as COVID-19 replacements. Despite Pouncey going on the list, the Steelers and Ravens will play on Wednesday. Pouncey's absence will be a slight downgrade for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger against a strong Ravens Defense that will be at less than full strength for this huge divisional game.
Pittsburgh Steelers RB Wendell Smallwood and OL Anthony Coyle were activated to the 53-man roster Wednesday, Dec. 2.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Jack Cichy was waived Wednesday, Dec. 2.
The Minnesota Vikings activated wide receiver Adam Thielen from the COVID-19 list, and he will practice on Wednesday. Thielen tested positive for the virus last week and was forced to sit out of the Week 12 win over the Panthers. He should be good to go for a juicy Week 13 matchup against the Jaguars Defense, a unit that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts. Thielen will return as the team's No. 1 wideout next to impressive rookie Justin Jefferson. Before missing Week 12, the 30-year-old caught eight of his 11 targets for 123 yards and two touchdowns against Dallas in Week 11. Thielen has four touchdowns in his last two games and will have clear WR1 upside in his return this weekend.
Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, Dec. 2, and he'll practice.
Fantasy Spin: It looks like he'll be good to go as a great WR2 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Chicago Bears Defense failed to record a single QB hit on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the Week 12 blowout loss to their division rivals, and All-Pro pass-rusher Khalil Mack has failed to record a single QB pressure in two of his last three games. Mack is tied for 15th in the NFL with 6.5 sacks and ranks as Pro Football Focus' second-best edge rusher in 2020, but Chicago's D as a whole has been lackluster in rushing the quarterback. The Bears have 21 sacks total, which ranks 20th in the NFL, and are in the midst of a five-game losing streak. Despite the lack of a ferocious pass rush, the Bears defense has been their strength this season and will come in as a top-10 fantasy unit in Week 13 against the Lions offense, which seems likely to be without No. 1 receiver Kenny Golladay (hip) yet again.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (foot), who hasn't played since suffering a broken bone in his right foot in Week 8, expects to return sooner than later. Head coach Kyle Shanahan is hopeful that Kittle will be available for the final couple of games of the season. "They said eight weeks; I said six," said Kittle. "And I'm excited. These last couple days have definitely progressed forward and made me very optimistic about returning to the field of play." Kittle sustained a fractured cuboid, the bone that sits outside of the little toe. Despite playing in six games in 2020, Kittle still leads the team with 37 catches for 474 yards. Because there's still a chance that Kittle could be available to fantasy managers for the championship in Week 16, he should remain stashed everywhere as an elite fantasy tight end.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hip) remains out of practice on Wednesday. Golladay was injured in Week 8 against the Colts and hasn't played since, and he's not off to a good start this week if he hopes to suit up in Week 13 against the Bears. At this point, fantasy managers can't count on the Lions No. 1 receiver being available for their starting lineups. The 27-year-old will need to get in at least a limited practice on Thursday or Friday to have a shot at playing this Sunday. Tight end T.J. Hockenson was the biggest beneficiary in the passing game last Thursday on Thanksgiving, while receiver Marvin Jones Jr. should be considered a WR3/flex with upside against Chicago if Golladay misses yet another game. Fantasy managers can't trust anyone else for consistent production in Detroit's passing game.
The Detroit Lions placed cornerback Desmond Trufant (hamstring) and defensive tackle Danny Shelton (knee) on Injured Reserve on Wednesday, which could potentially end their season. They'll be forced to miss at least the next three games, with only five games remaining in the 2020 season. Only Romeo Okwara played more defensive snaps this year than Shelton, so it's a big loss for Detroit's defensive line, especially in regards to run defense. Trufant previously missed five games this year with a similar injury. With rookie Jeff Okudah also dealing with an injury, the Lions are short-handed at cornerback. Rookie tight end Hunter Bryant has been activated from IR and defensive lineman Kevin Strong has been promoted to the active roster. Detroit's defense hasn't been fantasy relevant all year long and is now short-handed due to injuries. However, they could be on the streaming radar in 16-team leagues in Week 13 against a Bears offense that continues to flounder.