ENGLEWOOD — After an 0-2 start, Vic Fangio is not worried about saving face. But he is focused on covering it.
After becoming one of five NFL coaches fined $100,000 for violating face covering protocols on the sideline, Fangio promised to follow the rules this Sunday against Tampa Bay. He is considering wearing a shield like the one donned by Kansas City coach Andy Reid.
"I have to do better with it. When I have my mask up 8-to-10 seconds, it starts fogging up my glasses. Those times I pull it down, I have to do a better job of pulling it back up," Fangio said.
Asked if he felt the discipline was fair, the coach, who talked with management about the issue since the team was docked $250,000 for his actions, admitted, "I am wearing it because the NFL says we have to wear it. And I am a loyal employee of the NFL, and I am going to do better with it."
At this point, it would make sense for Fangio to use a facial shield, eliminating any ambiguity or lapses. Reid's shield drew laughter when it fogged up on opening night, but he worked with NHL officials to prevent the issue since hockey players have run into the same problem with their equipment.
A mask is only one of the problems facing the undermanned Broncos this week. Their training room is standing room only, including stars Von Miller (ankle) and Courtland Sutton (knee). A.J. Bouye is out for two more games with a shoulder issue, and Phillip Lindsay is expected to miss one more week with a turf toe injury, with optimism that he returns against the Patriots. The Broncos chose not to place quarterback Drew Lock on the short-term injured reserve with his strained right rotator cuff.
"There’s a chance he may not have to miss three games," Fangio said. "But there’s a chance he could miss four or five”
Lock attended Wednesday's practice, eschewing the sling he wore after Sunday's loss. He watched as the quarterbacks went through the drills, staying engaged. He is also attending all the meetings to help Jeff Driskel and to stay sharp.
As it stands, Driskel will face off against Tom Brady. Driskel is 1-7 as a starter. Brady is 220-65 with six Super Bowl rings.
Driskel, wisely, is keeping it simple.
"I grew up watching Tom Brady," Driskel said. "But I am not going to be watching (Tampa Bay's) offense this week. The first time I see it will be on Sunday."
The conclusion is clear: He needs to focus on helping this team win, not proving himself against the most decorated player in NFL history. Driskel played well Sunday, becoming only the second Broncos quarterback to eclipse 250 yards passing with two scores in a relief performance. With Courtland Sutton out — he barely played with Driskel last week — the Broncos will lean on promising tight end Noah Fant and young receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler.
"Fant is doing a little bit of everything for us," Driskel said. "I expect that to continue."
Jeudy is prepared to fill a larger role. He has been disappointed in his performance the first two weeks.
"Me personally, I don't feel I have played my best football. That first game, I feel like that's on my me (because of a fourth quarter dropped pass)," said Jeudy, who has eight catches for 118 yards. "We've got a good team here, we've just got to finish."
The Broncos have lost their first two games by a combined six points. They know history is not kind to teams that start 0-3 with only six qualifying for the playoffs since 1980.
Their confidence comes from the resilience shown while competing without star players.
"It's about the small details," cornerback Bryce Callahan said. "When we have someone down, we have to keep them down."
Outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo practiced on Wednesday and could be active this week. ...
Phillip Lindsay worked on the side with trainers for the first time since suffering a turf toe injury in the first half of the opener. There's hope he will play against the Patriots. ...
The Broncos will have 5,700 fans at Sunday's game, and hope to more than triple that number as the season advances, while following social distance guidelines. ...
Driskel represents the Broncos' eighth starting quarterback since Peyton Manning retired, joining Lock, Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen, Case Keenum, Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch. Only Lock (4-3) and Siemian (13-11) have winning records.
It’s a season of big sports events airing this fall on Denver7. Check out our upcoming schedule:
- Sept. 29: MLB Wild Card Series
- Sept. 30: MLB Wild Card Series
- Sept. 30: NBA Finals Game 1 on Denver7
- Oct. 1: Broncos vs Jets on Denver7
- Oct. 1: MLB Wild Card Series (If needed)
- Oct. 2: NBA Finals Game 2 on Denver7
- Oct. 4: NBA Finals Game 3 on Denver7
- Oct. 6: NBA Finals Game 4 on Denver7
- Oct. 9: NBA Finals Game 5 on Denver7
- Oct. 11: NBA Finals Game 6 on Denver7
- Oct. 13: NBA Finals Game 7 on Denver7