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Broncos cancel practice after strength coach’s COVID-19 test

ENGLEWOOD – The Denver Broncos canceled their walkthrough Friday after strength and conditioning coach Loren Landow tested positive for the coronavirus.

“I was surprised this morning to learn that I tested positive for COVID-19,” Landow tweeted. “I feel great w no symptoms following all the guidelines of our medical staff. Gonna hurt not being out there tomorrow, and I can’t wait to get back to work!!”

It’s believed Landow is the second head strength and conditioning coach in the NFL to be infected with the coronavirus. Last month, Steve Saunders was reportedly the potential link in the COVID-19 outbreak that threw the Baltimore Ravens’ season into upheaval.

Patrick Smyth, the Broncos’ chief communications officer, tweeted “the team is continuing its normal preparations virtually for Saturday’s game against Buffalo.”

The Broncos have canceled four practices or walkthroughs this year because of the coronavirus. They’ve had eight players go on the COVID-19 reserve list for infections and four more for close contact, including kicker Brandon McManus t his week.

They were forced to play a game against New Orleans last month with a practice squad receiver at quarterback after all four of their QBs were disqualified when Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were deemed high-risk close contacts of QB Jeff Driskel, who tested positive for the virus on Thanksgiving.

The three other QBs had failed to wear masks around Driskel earlier that week when they voluntarily went in on their off day for film study.

After that incident, the Broncos signed kicker/punter Taylor Russolino, a 31-year-old rookie, to their practice squad and kept him isolated as their “COVID kicker” should the coronavirus sideline either McManus or punter Sam Martin.

That contingency plan came into play this week when McManus went on the COVID-19 reserve list as a close contact. Because the game against Buffalo is on Saturday, he won’t be back in time to rejoin his teammates for kickoff. So, Russolino will fill in.

In addition to the players who have tested positive for the coronavirus since training camp started, veterans Von Miller and Kareem Jackson were infected in the offseason. In addition to Landow, the Broncos also have had three other assistant coaches and two executives, including GM John Elway, test positive this season.

Defensive coordinator Ed Donatell missed six weeks and spent five days in the hospital during his illness. He is one of two people in the NFL known to have been hospitalized with a severe case of COVID-19.

The Broncos (5-8) are scheduled to host the Bills (10-3) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The Bills are seeking their first AFC East title in 25 years and the Broncos are hoping to avoid a fourth consecutive losing season, something that hasn’t happened since the late 1960s and early ’70s.