Sun Nov 29 2:38pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock, right, confers with quarterback Riley Neal during NFL football practice Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
DENVER (AP) The Denver Broncos elevated rookie receiver Kendall Hinton from the practice squad Sunday morning, hours before he was expected to start at quarterback for a team that's missing its four QBs over coronavirus concerns.
The Broncos (4-6), who are hosting the New Orleans Saints (8-2) at empty Empower Field, also placed starting quarterback Drew Lock, his backup Brett Rypien and practice squad veteran Blake Bortles on the reserve/COVID-19 list Sunday.
The three were deemed high-risk close contacts with No. 3 QB Jeff Driskel, who tested positive for the virus on Thanksgiving Day, and pulled off the practice field Saturday. They were sent home and ordered to isolate for five days, per the NFL's COVID-19 protocols.
Hinton, who is 6 feet and 190 pounds, played quarterback for three seasons at Wake Forest before switching to receiver last year for his redshirt senior season when he caught 73 passes for 1,001 yards and four touchdowns.
He signed with Denver as an undrafted college free agent in the spring and spent all of training camp with the Broncos before being waived on Sept. 5. He rejoined the practice squad on Nov. 4.
Hinton completed 133 of 253 (52.6%) passes for 1,504 yards with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions for the Demon Deacons. He also rushed for 1,059 yards with 12 TDs on 188 carries for a 4.7-yard average in college.
In all, he made just five collegiate starts at quarterback and his last touchdown pass came on Oct. 7, 2017, against Clemson, which is more recently than Saints' 30-year-old starter Taysom Hill, whose last TD throw was on Nov. 26, 2016, for BYU against Utah State.
Hill was set to make his second start in place of Drew Brees, who's out with fractured ribs. Hill won his NFL debut at quarterback last week against Atlanta.
After clearing the Broncos to practice following Driskel's infection on Thursday and again Friday after kick returner Deontae Spencer and two staffers tested positive, the NFL gave the Broncos to go-ahead again to practice on Saturday.
Just as the quarterbacks were loosening up during a special teams session, the league informed the Broncos that league investigators had determined Lock, Rypien and Bortles had been around Driskel without masks as required by the league's COVID-19 rules, according to a person familiar with the probe.
The quarterbacks were pulled off the field and sent home to quarantine.
Broncos coach Vic Fangio, general manager John Elway and CEO Joe Ellis lobbied NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to push the game back to Tuesday like the league had done with the Pittsburgh-Baltimore game after a virus outbreak on the Ravens' roster. But that request was denied.
The Broncos could also face a hefty fine and the loss of a 2021 draft pick over their COVID-19 protocol violations by their quarterbacks.
Lock is missing his third game this season, fourth if you count his Week 2 start at Pittsburgh when he sprained his throwing shoulder in the opening minutes. In two seasons, he's started 13 games and missed 14.
Sunday Morning Update: Week 12
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus (toe) is questionable to return to Sunday's game against the Las Vegas Raiders. He has one catch for 11 yards. With Julio Jones out as well, Russell Gage would benefit if Zaccheaus can't return.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Malcolm Perry (chest) is questionable to return to Sunday's game against the New York Jets. Perry set career highs in targets (five), catches (three) and yards (23) last week, but hasn't been much of a factor in this offense this season, so his absence from this game shouldn't change much in terms of fantasy outlooks.
Buffalo Bills tight end Tyler Kroft appears to be a healthy scratch for Sunday's contest against the Los Angeles Chargers. Dawson Knox will see most of the tight end work against a Chargers Defense that can definitely be exploited, making Knox an intriguing TE2 streamer. Knox hasn't had more than two catches in a game yet this year though, so don't get your hopes up for him, even if there's some upside.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst (ankle) is active for Sunday's game against the Raiders. With Julio Jones (hamstring) out, there could be some increased work for Hurst this week. Before last week's zero catch performance against the Saints, Hurst had seen seven targets or more in three consecutive games, so there should be a decent floor here, even if Hurst hasn't had many huge games since arriving in Atlanta.
Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (concussion) is officially active for the Week 12 game.
Fantasy Spin: Bernard should be able to handle his normal workload this week and can be a No. 2 running back or flex option in fantasy leagues.
Indianapolis Colts QB Philip Rivers (toe) is officially active for the Week 12 game.
Fantasy Spin: Rivers has thrown at least three touchdowns in three of the last five games and should have some success against the Tennessee Titans. He can be considered a low-end No. 1 quarterback in leagues.
Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hamstring) is not active for Week 12's game versus the Las Vegas Raiders.
Fantasy Spin: Even though Jones was a limited practice participant Wednesday, Nov. 25, he was unable to practice Friday, Nov. 27, so it is not surprising that the Falcons have decided to hold him out of this week's game. Expect WRs Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage and TE Hayden Hurst to see additional targets in Jones' absence.
Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. (groin) and wide receiver Adam Thielen (COVID-19) are both out for Minnesota's Week 12 contest against the Carolina Panthers. The Vikings will have to rely more on rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson in this one, who's a low-end WR2 play. Tight end Kyle Rudolph has some streaming or DFS potential as well.
New England Patriots running back Sony Michel was apparently a healthy scratch in Week 11 after coming off the Injured Reserve, but he's active for Week 12 against the Panthers. This is likely just the result of Rex Burkhead (knee) being out, and Michel won't see much work. It's possible his return cuts a little into Damien Harris's workload, but Harris should still be a solid RB3 option, as will James White.
With New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold back at quarterback this week, the team will also see head coach Adam Gase take back over playcalling duties. It'll be interesting to see if Gase changes anything for the Jets. Considering his reputation as kryptonite to offensive players, we wouldn't be staking our fantasy hopes on Darnold or any of the Jets players this week, though rookie wide receiver Denzel Mims has FLEX appeal based on his increasing usage lately.
Los Angeles Chargers RB Kalen Ballage (ankle, calf) has been declared inactive for the Week 12 game.
Fantasy Spin: Austin Ekeler is back in the lineup and should receive most of the work at running back moving forward. Ekeler should be a starting option in all fantasy leagues, while Ballage could be cut if a player needs roster space.
Atlanta Falcons TE Hayden Hurst (ankle) is active for Week 12's game against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Fantasy Spin: Hurst had been listed as questionable on the injury report after participating in just one practice session during the week on a limited basis. However, he can be viewed as a low-end TE1 in all fantasy formats based on his performance over the last month, as well as the fact that he should see additional targets this afternoon with WR Julio Jones (hamstring) sitting this game out.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II (thumb) will miss his fourth consecutive game on Sunday when the Jags face the Cleveland Browns. Mike Glennon will start while Jake Luton, who started the past three games, will back Glennon up. Minshew was struggling when healthy, but it's become clear that this passing offense barely functions with Luton under center. Glennon is unlikely to change that.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers (toe) is active for Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans. After missing practice time during the week, there was some concern for Rivers, but he'll be good to go. The Titans Defense has had some issues this season and Rivers already had a 300-yard game against them, so if you're in need of a streamer at the quarterback position or an affordable DFS play, Rivers is interesting.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard (concussion) has been cleared to play against the Giants in Week 12 and is officially active. With Brandon Allen starting at quarterback, Bernard should see plenty of work, though Samaje Perine will likely siphon off some of his usage. Bernard's a low-end RB2 play this week.
The Los Angeles Chargers have declared OT Storm Norton, QB Easton Stick, CB Casey Hayward, OG Tyree St. Louis, LB Uchenna Nwosu, RB Kalen Ballage and DL Cortez Broughton inactive for Week 12.
The New England Patriots have declared QB Brian Hoyer, DL Byron Cowart, WR Isaiah Ford, DE Tashawn Bower and RB J.J. Taylor inactive for Week 12.
The Carolina Panthers have declared OT Dennis Daley, CB Donte Jackson, OT Greg Little, QB Will Grier, RB Christian McCaffrey and LB Sam Franklin inactive for Week 12.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring) is inactive for his team's Week 12 contest against the Las Vegas Raiders. Jones was slowed down last week with the hamstring issue and ended up playing just 35 percent of Atlanta's snaps. Calvin Ridley (foot) won't be at 100 percent, but should see plenty of targets in this matchup and is a strong WR2 play. Russell Gage will also see more work and is a potential FLEX play.