Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock addressed his absence ahead of Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints as the team will be without any of its quarterbacks because of COVID-19 contact tracing.
"In a controlled and socially distanced area, we let our masking slip for a limited amount of time," Lock wrote in a statement he posted to Twitter. "An honest mistake, but one I will own."
"I sincerely apologize 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."
With Lock, Jeff Driskel, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles all unavailable, the Broncos announced they were promoting Kendall Hinton from their practice squad.
Hinton was a backup quarterback at Wake Forest before moving to wide receiver during the 2018 season. He threw for 1,504 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions for the Demon Deacons.
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
If Kendall Hinton were to play QB for the Broncos, he's actually thrown a Pass TD more recently than Saints starting QB Taysom Hill. Hinton's last Pass TD: Oct. 7, 2017 at Clemson when he was with Wake Forest Hill's last Pass TD: Nov. 26, 2016 vs Utah State when he was with BYU https://t.co/TqupY8p2Bc
NFL Network's James Palmer noted Denver has listed running back Royce Freeman as its emergency quarterback in the past, so he could get the opportunity to line up under center as well.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reported the Broncos also looked into whether they could use Rob Calabrese, an offensive quality control coach on their staff.
"Denver felt that Calabrese had the strongest command of its offense and he could run the system better than anybody, sources told ESPN," Schefter wrote.
The NFL denied Denver's request to activate Calabrese.
Beyond the impact on Sunday's game, the mistakes Lock referenced could have larger effects for the franchise.
According to Schefter, the Broncos are preparing for the NFL to levy some form of punishment—perhaps a fine and the forfeiture of a draft pick—for failing to properly follow the league's COVID-19 health and safety protocols.