ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos are making backup play-calling plans after offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur tested positive for the coronavirus Friday and went on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Barring the unlikely scenario of Shurmur testing negative twice 24 hours apart before Sunday's game, the Broncos (5-4) will have another member of the offensive staff call plays against the Philadelphia Eagles (3-6).
Prime candidates are quarterbacks coach Mike Shula, who will communicate with QB Teddy Bridgewater through his headset, or O-line coach Mike Munchak.
“I'm not going to make it known, but I know who it's going to be,” coach Vic Fangio said following Friday's practice.
Also Friday, the Broncos placed guard-center Austin Schlottmann on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
That marks four Denver players who have gone on the list this week, starting with backup quarterback Drew Lock, who tested positive for the virus when the team's plane landed in Dallas last weekend. Lock learned during the flight that someone close to him had the virus and he was isolated when the team landed in Texas and he tested positive.
Bridgewater has been wearing a mask and testing every day because he was a close contact of Lock's. Bridgewater has been vaccinated and said Wednesday that he “should be clear" to play Sunday as long as he keeps testing negative.
The other Denver QB is Brett Rypien. Lock is expected to return next week.
Lock went on the COVID/19 list Monday and he was followed by cornerback Michael Ojemudia and inside linebacker Justin Strnad this week.
Two more players—tight end Noah Fant and backup guard Netane Muti—are on the exempt list as they return from stints on the reserve/COVID-19 list. They practiced all week.
Fangio said Friday that all the players who have gone on the reserve/COVID-19 list had been vaccinated but had breakthrough infections.
Bridgewater noted this week that as a precaution, the team moved its offensive meetings from the team auditorium to the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse where the players and coaches are socially distanced in larger rooms.
“We’re taking a preventative approach of catching this thing before it spreads. We’re spaced out in meetings now,” Bridgewater said. "Just making the meeting rooms bigger and enforcing guys to wear the mask, even if you are vaccinated. If you’re within six feet, just want to stay safe and limit the cases from increasing.”
Last year defensive coordinator Ed Donatell missed several weeks and was hospitalized with a severe case of COVID-19 before vaccinations were available.
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Arnie Stapleton, The Associated Press