Broncos injury update: Illness strikes Denver’s locker room

Nov 11, 2022, 2:33 PM
Nik Bonitto...
(Photo by Andrew Mason /
(Photo by Andrew Mason /

To add another log to the fire of the Broncos’ woes, now we must talk about illness.

Three players on the 53-player roster did not practice Friday due to what Nathaniel Hackett described as an “illness”: edge rusher Nik Bonitto, wide receiver Kendall Hinton and cornerback Darius Phillips. All three are considered questionable for Sunday’s game in Nashville.

“It’s just an illness,” Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett said.

When asked whether it was non-COVID-19-related, Hackett replied, “Illness.” A moment later, after being asked if the ill players were isolating, Hackett said, “They’ve just got an illness.”

No matter what the malady is, Hinton and Bonitto play positions already compromised by injuries, so their potential absences could be costly. The Broncos ruled out starter Baron Browning due to the hip injury he suffered Oct. 23 against the New York Jets.

If Bonitto and Browning can’t go, the Broncos would be left with Jonathon Cooper, Nov. 1 trade acquisition Jacob Martin and practice-squad player Zach McCloud at edge rusher. Jonathan Kongbo, a practice-squad player who was activated for the game in London, did not practice Friday.

“Whoever we’ve got, we’ve got to put out there and go out there and compete,” Hackett said.

If Hinton can’t play, the Broncos would be without him and KJ Hamler. Hamler suffered a non-contact injury in practice Wednesday and sat out each of the last two days.

ALSO RULED OUT was TE Andrew Beck, who succumbed to a hamstring injury Thursday in practice.

The injury Beck suffered Thursday was “non-contact,” Hackett noted.

“Just running, and it happened,” he said.

Beck and Hamler will become the eighth and ninth players to miss at least one game for the Broncos this season due to hamstring problems. As of Sunday, those nine players will have missed a combined 25 games this season.

“We evaluate everything,” Hackett said. “We’ve got really good people here, and everybody’s doing everything we can to get these guys out in practice, in the games and be able to play at a high level.

“Those things, they happen. It’s a part of the game. Some are early in practice, some are in the middle of practice, and you never know when that’s going to happen. Some guys are more susceptible than others. I mean, there are so many different things that go into that. It’s not just one thing. We’re going to do everything we can to prevent that.”


The injuries were not a reason why Hackett moved practice inside the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse on a sunny day with temperatures in the mid-30s.

“We just wanted to change it up. Just change it up and get a nice, crisp, practice,” Hackett said.

When asked how going inside made practice crisper, Hackett noted that the work was “just a little tighter. It’s just a changeup.”


Both OT Cam Fleming and safety Justin Simmons practiced Thursday and Friday after sitting out Wednesday with a quadriceps injury and a knee sprain, respectively.

In regards to Fleming, Hackett noted that evaluation would continue to determine whether he can play Sunday.

“It’s a communication with our medical staff and him to find out if he’s able to compete if he can go,” Hackett said. “We don’t want to get too many reps for him, but we want to be sure he’s able to test it and do what’s right, so, we’ll continually evaluate that.”


Titans coach Mike Vrabel ruled out five defensive players, including four starters: DL Jeffery Simmons (ankle), edge rusher Bud Dupree (hip), ILB Zach Cunningham (elbow) and safety Amani Hooker (shoulder). The Titans also ruled out reserve DB and special-teams contributor Josh Thompson (knee).

Meanwhile, QB Ryan Tannehill remains questionable. After having a full practice workload Thursday, Tannehill was limited on Friday.

“We’ll see how it goes here the next couple of days,” Vrabel told Nashville-area media on Friday. “I think he’s making progress and feeling better.”


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