The Edmonton Football Team didn’t want to find themselves in a situation like the Denver Broncos.
During Week 12, Vic Fangio was forced to call up receiver Kendall Hinton and make him the first position player to start at quarterback in the NFL in 55 years. That was after quarterbacks Drew Lock, Blake Bortles, and American-Canadian Brett Rypien were ruled out due to COVID-19 concerns.
Hinton played quarterback at Wake Forest University for his first three seasons with the Demon Deacons prior to switching positions to receiver for his senior year. He caught 73 passes for 1,001 yards and four touchdowns, but still went unselected in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Broncos signed him as an undrafted free agent, so he was familiar with the playbook.
Denver suffered a 31-3 loss to New Orleans while Hinton completed 1-of-9 passes for 14 yards and rushed two times for seven yards. The loss was a predictable result for the Broncos who ran the ball on 33 of 43 offensive plays.
Edmonton head coach Scott Milanovich and general manager Brock Sunderland planned for that exact possibility north of the border.
“When we were still talking about having our bubble situation, Brock and I actually talked about this and foresaw this possibility. We were kicking around the idea of keeping a quarterback on the practice roster and completely isolating him from the rest of the team,” Milanovich said on CHED 630 radio in Edmonton.
“Any work he would do would be from the hotel room, on Zoom calls, where he wouldn’t even be around any of the other players, so we couldn’t get stuck with a situation like Denver got stuck with. It would have been interesting to see how that would have turned out.”
The former NCAA, NFL, NFL Europe, XFL, AFL, and CFL quarterback wasn’t about to let the coronavirus affect Edmonton’s ability to field a competent signal caller. Milanovich’s plan provides a glimpse into the many scenarios CFL teams were preparing to deal with in an unprecedented situation.
“We had a plan. It becomes a numbers situation also — can you afford to have that guy on your practice roster? But it was something that was discussed for the same instance,” Milanovich said.
“So this kid is going to be in the bubble, away from his family, in a hotel, can’t hang out with his teammates. He’s basically going to be completely isolated in a hotel room for nine games and then playoffs. That’s a tough ask, but I’m sure you’d find somebody that was willing to do it.”
Winnipeg had been chosen as the three-down league’s hub city, but the CFL board of governors voted against playing in 2020.