Illness and 1970s love songs spill out of Broncos locker room



The hamstrings knock out Hamler and Beck. Justin Simmons looks ready to go.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Practice was over, preparations for the Tennessee Titans were mostly complete, and the quarterback Russell Wilson thought it was a good time to play 1970s love songs.

“Easy” from the Commodores. “Loving You Is Easy Because You’re Beautiful” by Minnie Riperton. Wilson cranked up his music. The songs drew a few smiles. And some songs to sing.

Let there be no doubt that these rough and tough football players are good about themselves.

Halfway through the Commodores classic, running back Melvin Gordon III came to shove Wilson away from his music box and locker. A group of veterans play “Uno” on Fridays after practice and Wilson was called in to participate.

If there was any concern about a viral bug floating around, none of the players showed it. Substitute cornerback Darius Phillips was ill and did not practice Thursday and two other players, Nik Bonitto and Kendall Hinton, joined Phillips in the sick bay on Friday.

These three players are listed as questionable for Sunday’s Broncos game in Nashville. Head coach Nathaniel Hackett did not help identify the disease.

“It’s just a disease,” he said.

“It’s just a disease,” he said.

There are HIPPAs that prevent management from revealing details of an employee’s illness. But there was also this: none of the healthy players in the dressing room were masked. Sources say a few players are simply under the weather.

The NFL has significantly relaxed, if not completely eliminated, its COVID-19 protocols. The flu is sweeping the country. Some cases of COVID have also been reported.

The Broncos think they’re doing everything they can to make Bonitto particularly good because he’s playing outside linebacker and the team is already without what had been their top three players in that position. Bradley Chubb was traded last week. Randy Gregory will miss his fifth game recovering from knee surgery. And Baron Browning will miss his second straight game with a hip flexor.

The hamstring virus

Hackett didn’t want to divulge much information about the circulating bug. So what about all those hamstring ailments? Deep ball receiver KJ Hamler and fullback/tight end Andrew Beck each suffered hamstring injuries in practice this week and both players were declared ‘out’ for the game against Tennessee .

They track starters like Greg Dulcich, Quinn Meinerz and Wilson who have missed games with hamstrings. Several other substitute players have also missed games with hamstrings.

“We’re evaluating everything,” Hackett said in what became his fallback response. “We have some very good people here and everyone is doing everything they can to get these guys in training, in games and playing at a high level.

“These things, they happen. It’s part of the game. Some are at the start of practice, some are in the middle of practice. You never know when it will happen. Some guys are more sensitive than others. There are so many different things that go into this. It’s not just one thing and we will do everything to prevent it.

Bronco bit

Starting safety Justin Simmons looked ready to go even though he is officially listed as “doubtful” for Sunday’s game with a sprained knee. …

The Broncos practiced indoors Friday at Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse. The air was cool, but 32 degrees and sunny. And the forecast is sharp, around 40 degrees in Nashville for Sunday afternoon’s game (kick-off 11 a.m. Colorado time). “It’s just a little tighter,” Hackett said of the indoor workout. “It’s just a change.”

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