Nathaniel Hackett elusive when pressed on Broncos’ illnesses

What’s going on in Denver?

The Broncos have five players listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Titans, three of which are listed with illnesses. What kind of illness?

Denver coach Nathaniel Hackett wasn’t saying.

“It’s just an illness,” Hackett told reporters when asked if the illnesses are flu-related.

When asked if they are COVID related, he was again evasive.

“[It’s just an] illness,” Hackett said.

When he was asked whether or not the three players with illnesses — linebacker Nik Bonitto, wide receiver Kendall Hinton and cornerback Darius Phillips — are being isolated, Hackett started to sound more like Bill Belichick.

Nathaniel Hackett
Nathaniel Hackett

“They just have an illness,” he said. “They just have an illness. There’s a lot of illness going around everywhere. My kids’ schools, everywhere.”

Last season, the Broncos were hit hard by COVID in Week 17, with 14 players, including eight starters, put on the reserve/COVID-19 list for their final game of the regular season.

Whether or not the three aforementioned players this week have COVID is unclear. The last player in the NFL to officially be listed with it Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny at the end of August.

The Broncos are just 3-5 under first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett.
The Broncos are just 3-5 under first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett.
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Worse yet for the struggling Broncos (3-5), they are without receiver K.J. Hamler (hamstring) and linebacker Baron Browning (hip) as well as fullback/tight end Andrew Beck (hamstring).

Hackett has already come under scrutiny on multiple occasions this season. The first-year head coach was widely criticized for poor clock management on multiple occasions early in the season, while Denver is averaging a paltry 15.1 points per game, third-worst in the NFL.

Meanwhile, Tennessee, at 5-3 and in first place in the AFC South, has its own injury concerns with five players officially out and three more questionable, including quarterback Ryan Tannehill (ankle), though he did practice all week.