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Injury, illness force Broncos to leave Noah Fant, Melvin Gordon home

The Broncos' Melvin Gordon, who was arrested last week, has been KO'd by a (non-COVID) illness.Seth Wenig/Associated Press

The Denver Broncos will be without tight end Noah Fant and running back Melvin Gordon for Sunday’s game against the Patriots, the team announced Saturday.

Gordon missed Friday’s practice with an illness that coach Vic Fangio said was unrelated to the coronavirus. According to a Denver television station, Gordon has strep throat and will not travel with the team.

Gordon’s availability for Sunday’s game was already in jeopardy after he was arrested late Tuesday night for driving under the influence. The team has yet to announce any disciplinary action, but Fangio said Gordon will face internal consequences.


In his first year with the Broncos, Gordon is the team’s leading rusher with 65 carries for 281 yards in four games. Backup running back Phillip Lindsay will likely be heavily involved on Sunday, in his return to the field after missing three games with turf toe.

“To be able to add Philip Lindsay back to the mix is huge,” offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said Thursday.

Fant was downgraded to out after being limited in practice all week with an ankle injury. He also did not practice at all last week.

Coach tests positive

The Broncos are traveling without running backs coach Curtis Modkins, who has tested positive for coronavirus. According to the team’s statement, the team learned of Modkins’s positive test Saturday morning before departing.

“Curtis is currently at home in self-isolation and experiencing no symptoms,” the team said. “We have evaluated close contacts, administered necessary point of care testing (no positive COVID-19 results), and implemented additional health and safety measures at UCHealth Training Center per NFL-NFLPA protocols.”

The long view

Last season, wide receiver Julian Edelman was on the field for at least 80 percent of the team’s offensive snaps in all but three games.

This season? There have been zero games in which Edelman has logged such usage, but offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels indicated there’s no reason to worry.


“It’s a long season,” McDaniels said. “There’s obviously certain games where Julian plays a really large number of snaps, and then there’s some other situations where we can kind of give him a rest and get him out of some of those other scenarios that maybe he’s been in in the past, but probably doesn’t have to do as much of that stuff at this point in his career.”

Edelman has been limited in practice with a knee injury since Week 1, so it’s probable the reduced snaps are intended to preserve his body.

“When you got players that, you know, you just want to make sure you manage them and be smart, handle them the right way,” McDaniels said. “Obviously, he’s a big part of what we do and we want to try to make sure we can sustain that throughout the course of a long season.”

All in the family

On Friday, Patriots safeties coach Brian Belichick gave a shout out to his sister, Amanda, for the example she’s set as a coach. Amanda, the oldest of the Belichick children, is in her sixth season as head coach of the Holy Cross women’s lacrosse team.

“For her to go into coaching, and the way she’s interactive with her players and set a great role model for me has been great,” Brian said. “Being able to talk to her about stuff that comes up with us, relative to her team, and how she interacts with her coaches and players and everyone. A lot of it carries over to us, too, even though it’s different sports.”


Nicole Yang can be reached at nicole.yang@globe.com.Follow her on Twitter @nicolecyang.