By Jeff Lewold
Denver Broncos safety P.J. Locke was relieved his commute to work when the Broncos faced the New England Patriots at Empower Field at Mile High would be roughly 39 hours, 30 minutes shorter than it was for a previous week’s game in Detroit.
Because of a medical issue, Locke, who started five of the Broncos’ previous six games, spent over 40 hours in an RV for his round trip to Detroit a couple weekends ago. Locke left Denver on a Friday afternoon and arrived at the team hotel Saturday afternoon for the Saturday night’s game in Ford Field.
He was on the road immediately following the Broncos’ 42-18 loss and arrived in Denver on Sunday afternoon. Locke played 56 of the defense’s 66 snaps and finished with four tackles and a knocked down pass.
“The doctor said I shouldn’t fly, so I said let’s gas it up,” Locke said after practice Friday. “It definitely wasn’t ideal, but I chose to do it, prime time, we’re fighting to finish strong. But it was a lot of movies, game film, a little sleep and a long ride.”
It all stemmed from a tackle Locke made in the first half of the Broncos’ Dec. 10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers in SoFi Stadium. Locke hit Chargers running back Austin Ekeler during a second quarter play and as the two fell to the ground, Ekeler’s helmet slammed into the front of Locke’s neck.
“As he was going down, I fell on him and his helmet went into my neck,” Locke said. “All of a sudden I lost my voice, had a bad sore throat and it was just not getting any better throughout the whole game. No one could hear me it was like I was playing charades out there.”
Following the game, Locke said he experienced soreness in his chest “like I had taken a hard hit there.” After the Broncos’ chartered flight returned to Denver, he endured “some chest pains and shortness of breath” at his home.
“I went to the ER for some tests and they let me go home later that night and I went to see a specialist on Monday and Tuesday after the Chargers game,” Locke said. “But they started giving me tests, an iodine test and they checked my lungs. We came back with all the results and [the doctor] said ‘all of it looks fine, but I recommend you do not fly,’ so I didn’t.”
Locke practiced all week having had no additional issues and has not been listed on the Broncos’ injury report. Locke has played in nine games, starting six, and has 34 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles this season.
Jeff Lewold is an ESPN contributor.