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Sport After Broncos' fiasco vs. Saints, will more NFL teams decide to quarantine a quarterback?

20:35  01 december  2020
20:35  01 december  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

Broncos DC Ed Donatell back home recovering after COVID-related hospitalization

  Broncos DC Ed Donatell back home recovering after COVID-related hospitalization Broncos defensive coordinator Ed Donatell required hospitalization after contracting the coronavirus, according to the team. The second-year Denver DC was hospitalized last week but discharged Sunday. Donatell, 63, has been battling COVID-19 symptoms since Oct. 31 and has missed the past three games. Donatell, who is in his third stint with the franchise, is one of a few Broncos staffers to have contracted the virus. Running backs coach Curtis Modkins did so in October, and offensive line coach Mike Munchak was in the team’s COVID protocol.

The NFL cleared the Broncos to practice on Thanksgiving Day after Driskel tested positive for the But coach Vic Fangio decided to shut down the building Friday and the team conducted meetings Some Broncos were incredulous about the NFL leaving them without a quarterback Sunday and for

None of the NFL team 's quarterbacks took part in Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints . Beginning his statement, Lock wrote, "As a proud member of the Denver Broncos , I can attest that our entire team has taken the COVID-19 pandemic seriously, following all the rules to keep each other safe.

It began as nothing more than a hypothetical solution to a hypothetical problem, kicked around in NFL circles over the summer.

With the league set to return amid a global pandemic, should teams isolate one of their quarterbacks from the rest of the position group to protect against potential COVID-19 exposure?

A handful of teams, including the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles, embraced the idea. Others balked at it. Then, last week, that offseason what-if became all too real. 

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The idea of keeping a QB away from the rest of the team to ensure his health may not work that well in practice.

Kendall Hinton had ' most eventful 24 hours' after shock Broncos QB promotion. Hinton played quarterback in college but his first NFL start went pretty The Denver Broncos ' COVID-19 tests from Sunday came back negative a day after the team played without a quarterback in a 31-3 loss to the

After all four of their quarterbacks were ruled out due to COVID-19 protocols, the Denver Broncos were left to start practice-squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton under center Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. He finished with one completion and two interceptions, and the Broncos lost, 31-3.

a baseball player holding a bat on a field: New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) sacks Denver Broncos quarterback Kendall Hinton (2) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Denver. © David Zalubowski, AP New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) sacks Denver Broncos quarterback Kendall Hinton (2) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Denver.

Veteran agent Mike McCartney, who publicly touted the notion of a "quarantine quarterback" this summer, said he has heard from several teams that are now revisiting the idea. And the tenor of those conversations has changed.

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The Denver Broncos are hoping their quarterback disaster could be over after one week. Lock publicly apologized in a tweet Sunday, but Broncos coach Vic Fangio lashed out at his quarterback group – also including Brett Rypien and veteran Blake Bortles.

The Denver Broncos did not have any of their four quarterbacks available when they faced the New Orleans Saints because of coronavirus concerns. The NFL has reportedly fined the Saints 0000 and stripped the team of a draft pick for not wearing masks during celebrations after a Week 9 win.

"Until something like what happened with the Broncos happens — when you’re talking about theory all the time — maybe it’s easy to take a conservative approach," McCartney told USA TODAY Sports on Monday. "But after what happened (Sunday), I think there are several teams that are at least going to have strong conversations about it now."

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Two of McCartney's clients have served in the "quarantine quarterback" role so far this season. Veteran Josh McCown spent a chunk of the season on the Eagles' practice squad while still living at his home in Texas, working out on his own and attending meetings virtually. Trevor Siemian filled a similar role for the Tennessee Titans after their outbreak. (McCown and Siemian have since signed with the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints, respectively.)

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After practicing as a wide receiver all season, Kendall Hinton struggled as a quarterback in his NFL debut. The Broncos will be without all four of the QBs on their roster when they take on the Saints in The Denver Broncos , already having a tough year, received some more bad news on Saturday.

NFL with no quarterbacks ? The league 's Covid-19 problems are just starting. Read more . The team said it will have information on practice arrangements later. The AFC East-leading Bills will The rules will also affect the San Jose Sharks of the NHL and college teams at Stanford and San Jose

Meanwhile, in Buffalo, rookie Jake Fromm has been practicing separately from the rest of the team, throwing to a few practice-squad receivers in private sessions after Bills practices. He is also sequestered in meetings to ensure that he would not qualify as a "close contact" with the team's other quarterbacks, Bills coach Sean McDermott said.

"Jake and our staff have just done a phenomenal job of executing that," McDermott told reporters Monday. "And (the Broncos' situation) is honestly why we’ve done it. It could happen to anyone. It could happen to us, or any position for that matter."

Titans coach Mike Vrabel said Monday that recently signed quarterback DeShone Kizer will be protected in a similar way moving forward.

NFL teams typically carry two or three quarterbacks on their active rosters, and perhaps one more on the practice squad. The league expanded practice squads to 16 players this season to give teams more flexibility amid COVID-19, which is one of the reasons why people like McCartney view it as a no-brainer — especially for playoff-hopeful teams.

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"If there’s five weeks, six weeks left in the season, and you have hopes (of making) the playoffs, why would you take the risk?" he said. "... To me, it’s not that difficult to carve out one spot to make sure you’re protected, and leave that player off-site."

Head coaches, however, largely remain split on whether to isolate a quarterback — even after Denver's nightmare scenario came to fruition over the weekend. 

Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich and Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin are among those who don't think such steps are needed as long as their players follow the league's COVID-19 protocols. Broncos starter Drew Lock acknowledged in a statement that he and two other quarterbacks "let our masking slip" while attending a meeting last Wednesday with teammate Jeff Driskel, who tested positive the next day. The NFL requires that players who are deemed high-risk close contacts with an infected individual be placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, in addition to those who test positive themselves.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, meanwhile, said the question of quarantining a quarterback is illustrative of the larger balance that teams must strike between safety and preparation.

"We’ll continue to do what we feel like is best and safe," New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick told reporters, when asked about potentially isolating practice-squad quarterback Jake Dolegala. 

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"I’m sure if we all just sat around in a bubble, then nobody would get anything. But I can’t imagine we’d be a very good football team."

As for the Broncos, coach Vic Fangio said in September that he didn't believe a "quarantine quarterback" setup would be necessary. And even now, he isn't fully on board with the idea.

"That's something that we will discuss," Fangio told reporters Monday. "But I think if we just follow the protocols, we'll be fine."

Contributing: USA TODAY Network reporters Martin Frank and Sal Maiorana

Contact Tom Schad at tschad@usatoday.com or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: After Broncos' fiasco vs. Saints, will more NFL teams decide to quarantine a quarterback?

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