Denver Broncos QBs Drew Lock, Brett Rypien, Blake Bortles to return Wednesday

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Three Denver Broncos quarterbacks, including starter Drew Lock, have been removed from the resserve/COVID-19 list and can return to practice and the team's facility on Wednesday.

Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles, who will now return to the practice squad, were deemed high-risk close contacts to Jeff Driskel, who tested positive for the coronavirus Thursday. After concerns over the contact tracing data and violations in the league's COVID-19 and social distancing protocols, the three were pulled off the practice field Saturday and none of them were in uniform for Sunday's 31-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints. The three were discovered to have not worn masks around Driskel at some point while watching film together on an off day.

Broncos coach Vic Fangio had said Monday that if the three received negative test results Tuesday, they would return to team activities Wednesday. All three had again tested negative as they had each day since Driskel was moved to the reserve/COVID-19 list, sources said.

Fangio said Monday that additional discipline is still "on the table" for Lock, Rypien and Bortles if no discipline comes from the NFL, including the possibility of a fine for conduct detrimental' to the team.

The Broncos were fined $250,000 and Fangio was fined $100,000 earlier this season for not following mask protocols and now face the prospect of a fine as well as a potential loss of a draft pick for the latest incident.

Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis released a statement Tuesday morning that read, in part: "We share in the disappointment of our fans for the challenging and unique situation our team faced at the last minute this weekend. While it's easy to point fingers, all of us must take responsibility and work together to prevent it from happening again.''

Ellis, who has battled COVID-19 himself this season, also thanked the team's medical staff, players and other team personnel. Ellis also said in the statement he had met Monday, via video call, with Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway and Fangio about "what needs to be done to step it up'' in the team's COVID-19 efforts.

Ellis also said "we will learn from this.''

The Broncos have also begun the process of putting quarterback Kyle Shurmur, who is offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur's son, through COVID-19 protocols to be signed. If the Broncos don't release a quarterback by the time Shurmur is cleared to participate in team meetings and practices, he would be the fifth quarterback on the roster or practice squad.

Fangio said Monday that the option of quarantining a quarterback would be discussed for future weeks, "but I think if we just follow the protocols, we'll be fine."

Lock had issued an apology on social media before Sunday's game and said he made an "honest mistake, but one that I will own."

Practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton played 24 of the team's 43 snaps on offense at quarterback Sunday while the Broncos had running backs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman take direct snaps the rest of the time. Hinton was 1-of-9 passing for 13 yards with two interceptions after his 24-hour crash course in the offense, and the Broncos gained 112 yards overall.