Denver Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis called on players and staff to increase their vigilance amid the COVID-19 surge, days after his team was forced to play without an established quarterback because of the virus.
"As we enter the final month of this unprecedented season, we must do even more with the COVID-19 spike around the league and community," said Ellis, who himself tested positive for the virus in early November. "I met with [general manager] John Elway and [coach] Vic Fangio virtually on Monday afternoon, and together we outlined what needs to be done to step it up."
The Broncos lost 31-3 on Sunday to the New Orleans Saints with practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton at quarterback. Starter Drew Lock, backup Brett Rypien and practice squad member Blake Bortles were forced to quarantine after they were ruled to have had close contact with quarterback Jeff Driskel, who tested positive for the virus last Thursday, and were unavailable against the Saints.
The quarterbacks reportedly were not wearing masks as required when they were together, and Lock apologized for letting his guard down.
"We share the disappointment of our fans for the challenging and unique situation our team faced at the last minute this weekend," Ellis said. "While it's easy to point fingers, all of us must take responsibility and work together to prevent it from happening again."
Multiple outlets reported that Lock, Rypien and Bortles were negative in the latest round of testing and can return to practice Wednesday.
Earlier, the NFL fined Fangio $100,000 and the Broncos $250,000 for failure to follow mask protocols on the sideline in September.
Despite his disappointment, Ellis said he recognized the challenges all team personnel have endured.
"I'm proud of the hard work and dedication of our staff to create a safe environment for everyone, led by our medical, facilities and compliance efforts." Ellis said. "It's especially important to recognize the discipline and sacrifices of the players - and their families - this year."
--Field Level Media