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Wearing a bearded stubble that underscored the Broncos’ scramble this past weekend, Pat Shurmur recounted his first game as an NFL playcaller with no legitimate quarterback and a last-minute, improvised game plan.
“We were informed late afternoon Saturday that we were going to have no quarterbacks,” Shurmur said. “So we whittled together a Wildcat-type offense, then brought in a quarterback and went out and tried to execute Sunday after (only doing) long walk-throughs. It made for a long evening and it made for a tough situation.”
Practice squad wideout Kendall Hinton, who got called in as the Broncos’ emergency quarterback, finished 1-of-9 passing with two interceptions in the Broncos’ 31-3 home loss to New Orleans. The detail-oriented Shurmur said calling on the undrafted rookie less than 24 hours until game time was “a huge ask.”
“A couple days prior to that, he was playing secondary on the scout team,” Shurmur said. “So yeah, it was very difficult, but he had a quarterback background more than anybody else on the roster.”
Shurmur said the loss and the drama that came before and after it — the Broncos’ three quarterbacks being ruled ineligible to play due to a COVID protocol violation, and then all four of them getting fined by the team — is now “in the rear view.”
The offensive coordinator added starter Drew Lock was eager to get back on the practice field Wednesday, but said the struggling second-year quarterback (11 interceptions in his last six games played) can’t press against a heavily favored Kansas City team that’s beaten Denver 10 straight times.
“So far (Lock’s) had a good week of preparation, and I think he looks forward to playing,” Shurmur said. “I don’t know about the whole thing of putting too much pressure on himself; I think he just has to be himself. ”
Lindsay, Reed return. Running back Phillip Lindsay (knee) and outside linebacker Malik Reed (shin) returned to limited practice work Thursday after sitting out Wednesday. Safety Trey Marshall (shin) and kicker Brandon McManus (non-injury) did not practice and receiver Jerry Jeudy (ankle) was limited for the second consecutive day.
The Broncos placed cornerback Bryce Callahan (ankle) on injured reserve Wednesday and he will miss a minimum of three games.
“We were waiting for what the verdict would be about how much time (the doctors) thought he would miss and they think it will be three weeks for sure,” Fangio said. “I know he personally wants to finish the season playing. He obviously didn’t do that in ’18 or ’19 (because of foot injuries) and I think it’s important for him to finish the season playing. If he’s ready to go in those last two games, he’ll be playing.”
Defensive end Shelby Harris was full-go in practice and is on track to play for the first time since Week 8 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
“He doesn’t have his sea legs under him yet but I thought (Wednesday) was a good start,” Fangio said.
Footnotes. Safety Will Parks, who returned to the Broncos on Wednesday via waivers, is not eligible to play Sunday because of COVID-19 protocols. “We like him as a player, we like him as a person and I think he’s excited to come back here and we’ll see exactly how he fits it,” Fangio said. … Already without returner Diontae Spencer (COVID-19/reserve list) and now Callahan, special teams coordinator Tom McMahon said receiver DaeSean Hamilton is up next on punt returns.