Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson has cleared the league’s concussion protocol but will be held out of Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, coach Nathaniel Hackett said after Friday’s practice. Here’s what you need to know:
- Wilson suffered a concussion early in the fourth quarter of last week’s 34-28 loss to the Chiefs, an injury that came at the end of a 16-yard scramble.
- After being listed as a non-participant in Wednesday’s practice, Wilson participated on a limited basis during Thursday’s workout and practiced in full Friday.
- Though Wilson cleared the protocol, Hackett said the Broncos “as an organization have decided to give him another week to get ready so that he’s ready to go for the Los Angeles Rams (on Dec. 25).”
- Hackett said Wilson was informed of the team’s decision to sit him against the Cardinals on Friday and “was not happy about it.”
What they’re saying
“(Wilson) wants to be out there and play,” Hackett said. “He’s very competitive, as we all know, and wants to compete for this team and be out there. We, as an organization, after discussing and talking throughout this entire week, have decided it’s best for our organization and it’s best for Russell.
“We talked about this from the top all the way to the bottom. We looked at every single thing and just wanted to give him another week to get ready.”
Wilson, who will miss his fifth game since 2021 after not missing any during his first nine seasons, addressed the organization’s decision with a group of reporters in the locker room after Friday’s practice.
“They wanted to give me another week to just recover and all that,” he said. “Obviously, for me, I always want to be out on the field. I believe in competing and being out there on the field, no matter what the circumstances are. I’m an old-school quarterback in that sense that I think you’ve got to be out there. At the same time, it was a collective decision by the organization and they wanted to let me get some extra rest.”
The concussion Wilson suffered against the Chiefs marked the first recorded concussion of his career. He took a blindside hit to the head by Clay Matthews in the 2014 NFC championship game, but Wilson didn’t miss a play and told reporters the following offseason that he didn’t suffer a concussion in the game. During a 2017 game against the Cardinals, Wilson took a hit to the chin and came out of the game for one play before returning. The NFL later fined the Seahawks $100,000 for an application failure of the league’s concussion protocol after the hit.
In addition to the concussion, Wilson has also dealt with shoulder and hamstring injuries this season, the latter of which forced him to miss a Week 7 start against the Jets. The Broncos are 3-10 entering Sunday’s game and were officially eliminated from playoff contention following last week’s loss to the Chiefs.
Wilson was involved in game-planning meetings throughout the week, but Hackett indicated from the start of the week that the decision on Wilson’s status would go beyond whether he cleared the protocol in time for the game.
“In the end, his safety is what matters most to us,” Hackett said Wednesday. “We want to be sure that we are taking care of him and all of his well-being and we’re doing what’s right for Russell.”
How will the Broncos adjust with Wilson out?
Backup quarterback Brett Rypien will make his second start of the season and the third of his four-year career.
Rypien relieved Wilson with more than 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter Sunday and turned in a mixed-bag performance. He threw a touchdown to Jerry Jeudy four plays after entering the game, but he later threw an interception after being hit by Frank Clark, effectively ending Denver’s comeback bid.
Rypien, who joined the Broncos as an undrafted free agent in 2019 following a prolific career at Boise State, has made six career appearances, completing 57.3 percent of his passes (55-of-96) with three touchdowns and six interceptions. Rypien took the bulk of the first-team reps this week.
“This is an amazing opportunity for Ryp,” Hackett said. “We want to see what he can do, and all the experience he can get is great for him.”
Rypien’s backup Sunday will be rookie Jarrett Guarantano, who joined the Broncos this month after the 49ers signed third-string quarterback Josh Johnson off Denver’s practice squad. Guarantano, who played collegiately at Tennessee and Washington State, spent the preseason with the Cardinals. In three exhibition games, he completed 17-of-30 passes for 232 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He has never been active for a regular-season game.
(Photo: Jim Dedmon / USA Today)