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Strep throat knocks Broncos' Melvin Gordon out of New England game

The running back was going to play, but the Broncos thought it was best for Gordon not to travel with the team while he works through the bacterial infection.
Credit: AP Photo/Adam Hunger
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon before an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Melvin Gordon has had better weeks.

The Broncos decided they will travel to New England on Saturday without their starting running back after Gordon was diagnosed with strep throat, sources told 9NEWS. Gordon will be declared out for the game Sunday against the Patriots. Phillip Lindsay will return from his turf toe injury and again become the Broncos’ starting running back.

Gordon is coming off his best game as a Bronco as he rushed for 107 yards – with 43 coming on a game-clinching touchdown run late in the fourth quarter – on October 1 against the New York Jets. The Broncos’ next game against New England has been delayed twice because of positive COVID-19 tests to four Patriots’ players and is now scheduled to be played Sunday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., starting at 11 a.m. mountain time.

That left the Broncos with an unscheduled bye week and a contracted three-day break that ended Wednesday. Late Tuesday night, Gordon was arrested on a DUI charge after a Denver policeman first pulled him over for going 71 mph in a 35 mph zone.

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Gordon called and spoke to Broncos general manager John Elway in the middle night to confess his DUI charge. Broncos head coach Vic Fangio met with a contrite Gordon on Wednesday morning and dismissed him from practice so the running back could mentally deal with his incident. Gordon returned to practice Thursday and was a full participant. He was diagnosed with strep throat Friday morning and did not participate.

To be clear, it was the illness, and not the DUI, that is preventing Gordon from playing against New England. The NFL and the Broncos will wait until after the judicial system rules on his case. He is to have his first court hearing on November 13. 

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Although strep throat is a bacterial infection and not a virus related to COVID-19, it is highly contagious and the Broncos decided it was best to not have Gordon travel with the team during a pandemic.

Besides, the Broncos have a pretty good backup plan in Lindsay, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of the previous two seasons, and Royce Freeman, a third-round running back who will also play. The Broncos are also expected to call up running back Jeremy Cox from their practice squad as insurance.

Lindsay has been sidelined since the first half of the Broncos’ season opener against Tennessee with his turf toe injury.

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