By ARNIE STAPLETON - Associated Press

Drew Lock returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since injuring his throwing shoulder in the Denver Broncos’ Week 2 loss at Pittsburgh, yet it was Brett Rypien who took the snaps with the starters.

Lock was easing his way back in after a 17-day layoff.

“We’re not going to give him a full workload today with today being his first day back at practice,” coach Vic Fangio said. “But we’ll let him do individual stuff and if that works well, we’ll get him a few reps here and there and see how he wakes up feeling tomorrow and go from there.”

Rypien is coming off his first career start, a 37-28 win over the Jets last Thursday night that followed his NFL debut, a one-series cameo against Tampa Bay in Week 3, when he replaced Jeff Driskel.

That made Wednesday’s workout essentially Rypien’s first with the starters.

“Being able to be in the huddle for a full week would definitely be helpful,” said Rypien.

“I have to prepare like I’m going to play and if the coaches tell me on Thursday or Friday that Drew’s ready to go and he can play, that’s awesome too,” Rypien said, “and I’ll be there to support him and get him ready.”

That is, if the game is still on.

The Broncos (1-3) are scheduled to play at New England, where the Patriots (2-2) canceled practice Wednesday and Thursday after a third player tested positive for the coronavirus.

Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, announced on social media he had tested positive and is asymptomatic. Quarterback Cam Newton was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Oct. 3, with a defensive tackle from the practice squad added Tuesday.

Fangio said he has no qualms about playing at New England this weekend if the NFL deems it safe to do so.

“I feel fine. I go to the grocery store, too,” Fangio said. “I just have a lot of confidence in the NFL and the players union, they’re doing a good job working together on all of these issues. I’m sure everything will be safe for all involved and I’m totally confident in it.”

Fangio said no players had told him they’re reluctant to play the Patriots because of the infections, and both Rypien and linebacker Bradley Chubb said they would feel safe playing in Foxborough should the league give the all clear.

“I feel like they wouldn’t play the game if everybody wasn’t on the right page and cleared and ready to go,” said Chubb.

With the Tennessee Titans’ COVID-19 outbreak and now several cases in New England, some players are starting to wonder if the entire season is in jeopardy.

“I had a bountiful amount of questions when I came in from the other players this morning with what’s going to happen with the season,” said kicker Brandon McManus, the Broncos’ union rep. “I’m not a clairvoyant to predict it. I’m an optimist and hopefully we’re able to continue.”


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