(Reuters) – With COVID-19 related issues leaving the Denver Broncos without a quarterback for Sunday’s game against New Orleans, practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton was thrust into the starting role and got a quick lesson on just how tough the position can be.
Hinton played quarterback in college but his first NFL start went pretty much as anyone would expect as he finished 1-for-9 in passing for 13 yards and two interceptions in a 31-3 loss to the Saints.
The 23-year-old, who made his NFL debut on less than 24 hours’ notice, said he only had time to learn about 20-30 plays ahead of kickoff.
“Coming in I knew that I had no idea what the state of the game was like. I am familiar with our concepts but it’s a lot different from quarterback,” said Hinton.
“We knew it would be a tough situation but it was a challenge I was willing to take.”
With all four quarterbacks, including usual starter Drew Lock, on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the Broncos elevated Hinton to the active roster as an emergency option.
Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were all taken off the field during practice on Saturday and deemed to be a “high-risk” after close contact with fellow quarterback Jeff Driskel, who tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday.
“I can easily say this has been the most eventful 24 hours of my life,” said Hinton. “But when I got the call it was pure excitement, of course there was nerves and disbelief.”
Earlier on Sunday Lock apologized for not following the NFL’s guidelines for masks.
He said in a statement the Broncos were taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously but that the quarterbacks did not follow protocols when they held a meeting together.
“In a controlled and socially distanced area, we let our masking slip for a limited amount of time. An honest mistake, but one I will own,” Lock said.
“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.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; editing by Ken Ferris/Peter Rutherford)