ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Surging cases in Colorado continue impacting the Broncos as offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur entered COVID-19 protocols on Friday morning.
Shurmur represents the fifth member of the Broncos to test positive since last Saturday, and seventh in the past 17 days. All were breakthrough cases as coach Vic Fangio said those affected were vaccinated.
The Broncos announced on Friday afternoon that quarterbacks coach Mike Shula will call the plays in Shurmur's absence. He will receive input from his offensive assistants, including line boss Mike Munchak and running backs coach Curtis Modkins.
Fangio said it’s “too late” for quarterback contingency plans, and believes they will be OK with Drew Lock returning on Monday.
The recent outbreak began with offensive lineman Netane Muti and tight end Noah Fant testing positive. Both returned to practice this week. However, backup QB Lock tested positive Saturday in Texas after learning on the flight that a close contact outside the building had tested positive. Cornerback Michael Ojemudia, linebacker Justin Strnad and offensive lineman Austin Schlottman were added to the list this week.
It is unnerving, defensive lineman Dre'Mont Jones admitted.
"It's been a huge concern. I feel like guys left and right are getting popped with the COVID card. I am just trying to do my part, avoid it, wear my mask and do my due diligence," Jones said. "(As for the meetings) we are less tight-knit. You got a guy here and another guy three seats later as far as part as possible. It's tough. It feels like last year again. Hopefully we can avoid that."
Jones admitted that players have talked about limiting their activities outside the building. That was regulated last year, but not an issue among vaccinated players this season.
"All that, not going out to dinner as much, trying to avoid outside contact as much as possible. Just trying being in a bubble. You have to," Jones said. "It (stinks) because we got into a routine with a sense of normalcy. Now, we are kind of reverting to that 2020 season a little bit. Like I said, we have to do our part."
Melvin Gordon said the team will get through this, but is creating some anxious moments.
"That's the scary part. We have been through so much adversity even traveling back to last year. Going into a game with no quarterback, having to make our bye week way earlier than it was supposed to be for the New England Patriots and now losing our offensive coordinator which was news to all of us this morning. Losing some linemen. It's just crazy man," Melvin Gordon told Denver7 on Friday.
"It's kind of nerve-wracking a little bit. We do our best to try and prevent stuff from happening. Coach Fangio has split us up and separated us. We try our best."
On Thursday, the state of Colorado reported 3,912 new COVID-19 cases with an additional 58 people hospitalized.