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Broncos continue Week 5 prep despite uncertainty following additions to Patriots' Reserve/COVID-19 list

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the Patriots meet virtually in the wake of placing three players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list within the last five days, the Broncos aren't modifying their preparation for Sunday's game in New England.

The Patriots placed Stephon Gilmore, the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, on the list on Wednesday and previously placed starting quarterback Cam Newton and practice squad player Bill Murray on the list, as well.

New England's Week 4 game against the Chiefs was delayed from Sunday to Monday, and both Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham took snaps in place of Newton. Gilmore played in Monday's game.

The Patriots-Chiefs game was the second NFL game to be delayed due to COVID-19 this season, but it was pushed back just a day. The Titans' Week 4 matchup with the Steelers was delayed for several weeks after an outbreak in Tennessee.

Head Coach Vic Fangio said Wednesday the Broncos have not received any indication that their game would be delayed.

"I haven't been told anything along those lines," said Fangio when asked if the Broncos had been told to make contingency plans. "We're just confident that the league, along with the players' union, is going to handle everything correctly. But nothing has been done or said other than the plan is normal."

Fangio said he addressed the situation during a team meeting on Wednesday, but he doesn't expect the Broncos to be distracted by the potential uncertainty surrounding Sunday's game.

"I think these guys are good at handling adversity, moving on and focusing on the job," Fangio said. "I don't see it as a big issue that way."

Fangio also said he felt "fine" to travel to New England and said no players had expressed reservations to him about playing the Patriots this weekend if the game is played as scheduled.

"I just have a lot of confidence in the NFL and the players' union," Fangio said. "They're doing a good job working together on all of these issues. I'm sure everything will be safe for all involved, and I'm totally confident in it."

Outside linebacker Bradley Chubb and quarterback Brett Rypien were among the players who said Wednesday that they trusted the NFL to create a safe environment for Sunday's game. Chubb said he wouldn't hesitate to play or sack Cam Newton, should the Patriots' quarterback be cleared to play.

"I would feel comfortable, because I feel like they wouldn't play the game if everybody wasn't on the right page and cleared and ready to go," Chubb said. "I feel comfortable playing and going out there. When it comes to Cam, he's one of those guys that you watched growing up and he's one of those guys that you want to get your hands on. He had the whole COVID stuff and all that, but I feel like if he's going to be out there playing then he went through everything and passed all the tests. It shouldn't be one of those things that's up in the air."

Kicker Brandon McManus, who is the team's NFL Players Association rep, said he spoke with a member of the players' union on Wednesday morning and faced a series of questions from his teammates about the outlook for both this weekend and the remainder of the season.

"I had a bountiful amount of questions when I came in from the other players this morning with what's going to happen with the season," McManus said. "I'm not a clairvoyant to predict it. I'm an optimist, and hopefully we're able to continue. We've done a fantastic job here in Denver with everything that's going on. I hope all these guys continue to do that. As long as we do that, I think we have a chance to succeed for this season."

As the Broncos await word on Sunday's game, Fangio and the players both emphasized the need to stay diligent to avoid positive tests in their own building.

"We've done a good job up to this point, but the key thing is that the message is 'We can't get complacent,'" Fangio said. "We have to be on our guard at all times when we're not in this building and around this team. When we're out in public or at home, we have to assume that the people around us have COVID and act accordingly, which basically means do your social distancing and wear your mask."

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