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Broncos Briefs: Vic Fangio looking for help on coverage units, but supports coordinator Tom McMahon

Phillip Lindsay, Tim Patrick among those who didn't practice Wednesday


If Broncos coach Vic Fangio makes changes to his special teams units for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, it won’t start with special teams coordinator Tom McMahon.

The Broncos allowed a 102-yard kick return to Kansas City on Sunday and rank last in covering kicks (32.4-yard average) and are 21st in punt coverage (8.8).

“I have great confidence in Tom,” Fangio said after practice Wednesday. “Tom’s an experienced coach and has done a good job in this league for a long time. We’ve had our struggles as of late, but I’m confident Tom will lead the way and pull us out of it.”

The Broncos need to figure out which players to put on the coverage units. Does that mean playing starters? Does that mean calling up practice squad reinforcements? Does that mean simply coaching the players better?

Probably all of the above.

“(McMahon) and I talk about it all the time,” Fangio said. “Some of (the time), we talk scheme. Some of (the time), we talk personnel to get players in there to possibly help on coverage units.”

Working against McMahon is a lack of continuity on special teams, but then again, that’s a way of life in the NFL because of injuries. Against Kansas City, 12 players had at least 10 special teams snaps and eight were either rookies and/or didn’t start the season on the 53-man roster. One player who could help is inside linebacker Austin Calitro, who played 41 special teams snaps before sustaining a hamstring injury in Week 3 against Tampa Bay. Calitro started his return-from-injured reserve process by practicing Wednesday.

Lock takes stock. Asked if offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur can add things to the offense to get more production, quarterback Drew Lock saluted his play-caller and pointed blame at himself.

“I personally think he’s doing a great job,” Lock said. “I could have done a lot better job on Sunday. Complete easy passes. Work through my progression better. Trust our (offensive line) a little more. That’s fully my plan this week.”

Injury report. Defensive end Shelby Harris did not practice Wednesday because of an illness that isn’t coronavirus-related and Fangio expects him back at the facility Thursday. Running back Phillip Lindsay (concussion), receiver/returner Diontae Spencer (shoulder) and receiver Tim Patrick (hamstring) did not practice.

On Lindsay’s status for Sunday, Fangio said: “We won’t know until Friday at the earliest and probably not until Saturday if he can go.”

Outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu (quad), tight end Jake Butt (hamstring) and tight end/fullback Andrew Beck (hamstring), all of whom missed the Kansas City game, returned to limited practice work.

Footnotes. Fangio said offensive line coach Mike Munchak missed practice because of COVID-19 protocols. Fangio said it wasn’t yet clear if Munchak had a positive test or was put in the protocol through contact tracing. Running backs coach Curtis Modkins, who missed the last two games with coronavirus, is back at the facility this week….Injured outside linebacker Von Miller, a boot on his left foot, continues to be a spectator at practice. … As for their practice squad protected players, the Broncos designated fullback Jeremy Cox, linebacker Nigel Bradham and receivers Fred Brown and Trinity Benson. Cox and Bradham were game-day call-ups against Kansas City. … Chargers running back Austin Ekeler, who grew up in Eaton and attended Western State, remains on injured reserve following a hamstring injury in the Week 4 loss at Tampa Bay.

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