Sports

Virus-stricken Broncos receive NFL lesson

The coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the NFL season with Denver crushed 31-3 by New Orleans on Sunday after the Broncos were forced to play a practice squad receiver as their quarterback.

Kendall Hinton was thrust into the starting role after Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were all removed from practice on Saturday after coming into contact with fellow quarterback Jeff Driskel, who tested positive for the virus on Thursday.

The 23-year-old, who made his NFL debut on less than 24 hours’ notice, only had time to learn about 20-30 plays ahead of kickoff.

He got a quick lesson on just how tough the position can be as he finished one-for-nine in passing for 13 yards and two interceptions.

“Coming in I knew that I had no idea what the state of the game was like. I am familiar with our concepts but it’s a lot different from quarterback,” said Hinton.

“We knew it would be a tough situation but it was a challenge I was willing to take.”

Earlier on Sunday Lock apologised for not following the NFL’s guidelines for masks.

He said in a statement the Broncos were taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously but the quarterbacks did not follow protocols when they held a meeting together.

“In a controlled and socially distanced area, we let our masking slip for a limited amount of time. An honest mistake, but one I will own,” Lock said.

“I sincerely apologise and I fully understand why these safety precautions are so important. Doing the right thing for a majority of the time is not good enough.”

Meanwhile the San Francisco 49ers, who beat the Los Angeles Rams 23-20, have no idea where they’ll be living, practising or playing next week.

New virus restrictions were issued in Santa Clara County while they were on their flight to Los Angeles.

The 49ers were taken aback by the county’s decision to essentially ban practices and games in the county for the next three weeks, with head coach Kyle Shanahan calling it “extremely disappointing.”

Players and coaches fielded worried phone calls from their families on the plane.

“We were in LA, and we had a game ahead of us,” said Richard Sherman, who had an interception and led the Niners with seven tackles in his first game since Week 1.

“That’s all we could focus on. When we get off the field, we’ll focus on where we’re going to go and what we’re going to do. We focused on the Rams.”

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