(CBS4)- Coming off their first win of the season last Thursday night against the Jets, the Broncos are headed to Foxboro this Sunday to face the New England Patriots. The Patriots got some bad news Wednesday as star corner and reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore tested positive for COVID-19. The positive test leaves New England without Gilmore and, likely quarterback Cam Newton, who tested positive last Friday.
The absence of Gilmore takes away one of the matchups that NFL on CBS analyst Trent Green was looking forward to watching the most: Broncos rookie Jerry Jeudy dueling with Gilmore.
“That was going to be one of the interesting matchups for me, would have been the Gilmore-Jeudy matchup. Were they going to have Gilmore mirror him,” said Green in an interview with CBS Local’s Ryan Mayer. “Or would they leave him to McCourty or someone else. That’s something we’re not going to be able to see this week.”
Without Gilmore in the lineup, the Broncos are likely to face a different defensive look from the Patriots than they may have expected. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is always changing his defense based on the matchup as Green notes, “he finds one thing or one person or one aspect or one phase and tries to shut that down and then force you to do some things that you don’t want to do.”
But, with Gilmore out, the ability to shut down either half of the field or, if Green was right, Jeudy, goes away. Green thinks that how the Broncos look to use the rookie in the passing game will be a key to watch in this game.
There may also be reinforcements coming for the offense as running back Phillip Lindsay participated in stretches and individual drills at practice on Tuesday. The 26-year-old back has been out since Week 1 with a turf toe injury and bringing him back in the lineup should help an offense that, until last week against the Jets, had struggled to score.
A boost to the running game would also help quarterback Brett Rypien who impressed Green last week.
“I really liked what I saw out of Brett Rypien. I like the fact that he wasn’t hesitant even when he had some mistakes. I like that he just kept on firing it. You want to see that. You don’t want to see somebody that is scared or deer in the headlights,” said Green. “You don’t want to see someone that is affected by negative plays. You want to see a quarterback that is still aggressive and I like that about him.”
The 24-year-old could get the start again this week with head coach Vic Fangio saying that Drew Lock has a 50/50 chance of returning to the lineup.
HC Vic Fangio says Drew Lock is 50/50 to play vs. Patriots. Says if Lock can't play, the @Broncos will start Brett Rypien again.
— Phil Milani (@philmilani) October 2, 2020
Lock did not participate in practice on Tuesday, so his status for this weekend remains unclear. If it is Rypien under center, providing balance to the game plan should help against New England.
There is some question about whether the game will be played with New England closing their facilities due to Gilmore’s positive test. But, the reporting as of Wednesday indicates that the league is going ahead with plans to play.
The Broncos face the Patriots Sunday at 2:25 p.m. MT on CBS.