ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III will remain in Denver as the team is scheduled to travel for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Gordon is being treated for strep throat by the team’s medical staff, sources confirmed to ESPN, and did not participate in the team’s Saturday morning walk-through. Gordon will not travel with the team later Saturday and will not play in Sunday’s scheduled game.
Tight end Noah Fant (ankle injury) also has been ruled out against the Patriots. Fant has a team-high 19 catches this season for 219 yards and 2 TDs.
Gordon did not practice Friday because of the illness and was sent home from the team’s facility as the team’s doctors initially tried to determine if his symptoms were COVID-19 related.
After Friday’s practice, Broncos coach Vic Fangio was quick to say Gordon’s illness was “[an] illness totally unrelated with COVID.”
Gordon currently leads the team in carries (65), rushing yards (281) and rushing touchdowns (3). His illness comes in a week when he still could face team discipline in the weeks ahead, as well as up to a three-game suspension from the league, for his DUI arrest late Tuesday night.
Gordon was cited for both DUI and speeding — police documents show Gordon was clocked at 71 mph in a 35 mph zone — late Tuesday night in downtown Denver. Gordon then did not practice Wednesday following the arrest, practiced Thursday, but did not practice Friday when he became ill.
Gordon signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Broncos this past offseason and had his first 100-yard rushing game with the team, including a 43-yard touchdown run in the closing minutes, in the Oct. 1 win over the New York Jets.
Phillip Lindsay, who has rushed for at least 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons, is expected to start against the Patriots Sunday. It will be Lindsay’s first game since he left the season opener in the first half with a toe injury.
Lindsay and Royce Freeman are the only other running backs on the current 53-man roster, but Fangio said Friday the Broncos would move Jeremy Cox up to the active roster for the game if Gordon did not travel.
The Broncos have not played since the win over the Jets, and the game against the Patriots has already been moved twice on the schedule because of multiple positive COVID-19 tests among the Patriots players and coaches over the past two weeks.
Sunday’s game was originally scheduled for Oct. 11, was then moved to Oct. 12 before being moved again to Sunday.
Also, the Broncos released quarterback Blake Bortles to make room to move defensive tackle Sylvester Williams, a former Broncos first-round pick, from the team’s practice squad to the active roster.
Bortles had not appeared in a game for the Broncos after he was signed Sept. 24. The Broncos had carried four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster as Drew Lock worked his way back from a right (throwing) shoulder injury suffered in Week 2, but Lock practiced fully this past week and is poised to start Sunday against the Patriots.
The Broncos’ other two quarterbacks — Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel — each started games during Lock’s absence, so the Broncos’ need at defensive tackle outweighed the need for four quarterbacks.
With three defensive linemen on injured reserve — Jurrell Casey (out for the season), Dre’Mont Jones and DeMarcus Walker — the Broncos needed Williams on the roster. Williams was the Broncos’ first-round pick in the 2013 draft.
The Broncos also said Saturday that running backs coach Curtis Modkins will not travel with the team to New England after testing positive for COVID-19.
“Curtis is currently at home in self-isolation and experiencing no symptoms,” the team said in a statement.