ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Sunday's Broncos game at New England is in jeopardy after another Patriots player tested positive for COVID-19.
According to multiple reports, star cornerback Stephon Gilmore will join quarterback Cam Newton and Bill Murray, a practice squad defensive tackle, on the team's reserve/COVID-19 list. The Patriots canceled practice Wednesday and will conduct meetings virtually for the next two days.
A morning press conference with coach Bill Belichick has been postponed, and will not address Monday until Thursday. An NFL source with direct knowledge of situation told Denver7 late Wednesday morning that Broncos-Patriots game is still on, but they are "continuing to monitor the matter."
Newton tested positive last Friday, pushing the Patriots-Chiefs game to Monday night. The Patriots traveled to Kansas City on game day, using two separate planes. One was reserved for players who had been in close contact with Newton. That plane included Gilmore, according to Sports Illustrated.
The test results over the next few days will determine whether the Broncos travel to New England. The league could push the game back, or even postpone the game as it did with the Titans-Steelers last Sunday after a Titans outbreak. The Titans registered another positive Wednesday, preventing the reopening of their facility following 13 total positive tests among players. Broncos player rep Brandon McManus has been fielding questions Wednesday from teammates about the the game.
I asked McManus if he felt comfortable playing and if the players could not play if they voiced to league that did not feel safe.
"Me personally, I am comfortable with traveling and going there. I have seen that the protocols work and will continue to work if we have compliance," McManus said. "We are harping on these guys, if they are hanging out with the same people all the time, then that's OK. But you don't want to be handing with new outside people. It's not just the people they are around, but the people those (people are around). If we as a team decided it wasn't safe and didn't go, we wouldn't be able to do that. We would have to prove that there was negligence on the Patriots or Broncos to put people at risk. If we as players decided we didn't want to go because it was unsafe, we would have huge uphill battle against that (because the protocols were agreed upon)."
McManus indicated that there would be a union call on Thursday night, discussing the heightened awareness, compliance and potential discipline to those who place the season at risk.
Outside linebacker Bradley Chubb said he has no issue with playing Sunday, that if the game remains on schedule it means it would be safe. The same applies, he said, to Newton. If he's on the field, he has cleared protocol.
In light of the recent developments, Broncos coach Vic Fangio was asked last Friday if the Broncos were stressing the importance of protocols and discipline away from the facility.
“Well, we’ve been having those talks with the players all year long ever since we got back here. About every other day I hit them with something as it relates to COVID and what we have to do to mitigate the virus and do our best to keep it out of our team and our building, so we’re constantly doing that," Fangio said. "Just because of what happened in Tennessee doesn’t make us react any more than what we’ve been doing because we’ve been on high alert since day one and will continue to be.”
Fangio reiterated Thursday that he would feel fine with game going forward if league says it's OK.
McManus earns honor
Broncos kicker Brandon McManus continues to age brilliantly, putting together a stellar season. Wednesday, he earned AFC special teams player of the week honors after converting three field goals against the Jets. It marked McManus' fifth career game with multiple 50-yard field goals and second career game with multiple 50-yarders in the fourth quarter. Per the Broncos, both are tied for second most in NFL history.
It’s a season of big sports events airing this fall on Denver7. Check out our upcoming schedule:
- Oct. 9: NBA Finals Game 5 on Denver7
- Oct. 11: NBA Finals Game 6 on Denver7
- Oct. 13: NBA Finals Game 7 on Denver7