ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos canceled practice on Thursday following as many as five new positive COVID-19 cases, Head Coach Vic Fangio announced.
"I just felt that we needed to hit the pause button, get our hands around what we got here, as far as numbers and roster, and we're going to hold the meeting this afternoon instead of practicing," Fangio said. "And the hope is tomorrow to have a good practice on Friday and Saturday and go out there and get us a W."
Fangio said it's possible that "a couple" of the positive cases may be the result of a false positive.
"The first test was positive, the second one was negative, and now they have their procedures they go through when that happens," Fangio said. "So, we're kind of in limbo on a couple guys right now."
Fangio said the Broncos would announce later on Thursday a list of those who would be placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Denver placed wide receiver Tim Patrick, safety Caden Sterns and tackle Calvin Anderson on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday and also placed wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland on the Practice Squad/COVID-19 list.
The Broncos previously placed a pair of players into COVID-19 protocols on Monday, but the NFL's newly announced rules could allow those players — including nose tackle Mike Purcell — to play on Sunday against the Chargers.
Fangio said the Broncos would practice more plays on Friday in order to make up for the lack of Thursday's practice. He said there have been no discussions about rescheduling the team's Week 17 game.
On offense, where Drew Lock is expected to make his second start of the season, Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur said the team would make the most of the scenario.
"Obviously we had to go through it last year, so we'll adjust," Shurmur said. "We'll try to do what we can today virtually, and then we'll try to circle back tomorrow and get some of the plays that we had intended to practice today, we'll weave them into tomorrow's practice."
Despite the inconvenience, Fangio said he's been impressed with the way his team has adapted to the repeated changes.
"I think they've done a great job of that," Fangio said. "As my friend [and Los Angeles Angels manager] Joe Maddon would say with his baseball team, he'd say, 'Embrace the suck.' Sometimes it sucks. You have that thought for about five seconds, then you embrace it and you move forward. Our guys are doing a great job of that, of adapting all year, especially lately when it's become more prevalent, and I expect them to continue that."
BEST IN THE LEAGUE
The Broncos enter Week 17 tied for the league's best scoring defense, as their 17.3 points allowed per game is matched by only the Patriots.
Denver has surged up the rankings in recent weeks, as they've allowed just 14 points per game over the last three games.
Denver should have a chance to earn the league's scoring title, but Fangio said the accomplishment wouldn't be a point of personal pride.
"I think it'd be a great thing just for our players," Fangio said. "The players are the ones that are responsible for it. They've done it with multiple people playing at different positions, and I just think it shows the fight and competitiveness of our players. They deserve all the credit, and they should get the joy out of it. We've got two great offenses to finish up here against, so it'll be a tough chore to hang on to that ranking, but we're going to give it all we can."
The Chargers and Chiefs both rank in the top eight in the league in scoring offense, and they average north of 27 points per game.
Denver has allowed 27 points or more just three times all year.