The Denver Broncos will be playing a game in under two hours in which they do not have a quarterback who was a quarterback three days ago. This is in spite of the fact that they have four actual quarterbacks employed—only all of them are the Reserve/Covid-19 List, with one of them testing positive and the other three classified as high-risk close contacts.
There are conflicting reports as to exactly what happened and whether or not the gathering of Broncos quarterbacks was done with approval by the league, but what does seem clear is that they comingled together without masks on. And now they must all quarantine.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have four quarterbacks in their employ. Has head coach Mike Tomlin given any consideration to placing one of them—such as practice squad arm Devlin Hodges—in precautionary quarantine, in order to ensure that, should some event sideline their other three quarterbacks, they would have another arm available?
“No, because we exercise all the necessary precautions in terms of the protection of the quarterbacks that we have”, he told reporters earlier today when asked, via a transcript provided by the team’s media department. Brooke Pryor of ESPN, who posed the question, also shared the answer.
Asked Mike Tomlin if they would put an emergency QB in a bubble to avoid a Denver situation:
“No, because we exercise all of the necessary precautions in terms of the quarterbacks we have.”
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) November 29, 2020
The Steelers are not unfamiliar with in-season scenarios in which they have had to use three or even four quarterbacks over the course of the year. They had three different quarterbacks start two or more games just last season, after all.
With the expanded practice squad this year, they opted to keep four quarterbacks in total, with Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph as their top two arms, and then having had the opportunity to reclaim Joshua Dobbs after he was waived by the Jacksonville Jaguars, and then Hodges on the practice squad.
Earlier in the interview, he was asked about scenarios in which an entire position group could potentially be exposed. Tomlin said that they avoid such scenarios. “We keep people separate. We work virtually. We meet virtually”, he said. “We work our tails off to social distance so that we’re not caught up in such circumstances”.
I hope, of course, that that is true, but there are only so many precautions that you can take, so much that you can work to prevent without actually taking the step of quarantining. The Broncos situation is obviously incredibly rare, and so far unique, but it is proof positive that it can indeed occur.
And the Baltimore Ravens this past week have shown how a viral infection can run through a position group. They are currently down five defensive linemen due to the Covid-19 protocols, with just three available to them for Tuesday between the active roster and the practice squad.