Things went from bad to worse for the Broncos at a key position on Monday, when another starter on defense left practice due to injury. Already thin at middle linebacker, Denver will be without Josey Jewell for a to-be-determined amount of time after the second-year player suffered some sort of injury to his side at training camp.
“He kind of tweaked his side a little bit,” Vic Fangio said after practice. “I told (head athletic trainer) Vince (Garcia) to take him in and start treating him.”
This is just the latest setback the Broncos have had at that position. On the first day of camp, fellow starter Todd Davis went down with a calf injury; he’s yet to return. And in the preseason opener, backup Joe Jones suffered a partially torn triceps, putting his season in jeopardy.
That’s three middle linebackers who won’t be on the field when Denver travels to Seattle for their second preseason game on Thursday night, creating an opportunity for backups to get more reps and make an impression on the coaching staff. Cue Keishawn Bierria, Joe Dineen Jr., Alexander Johnson and Josh Watson, the backups listed at that position on the Broncos depth chart. In addition, get ready for Dekoda Watson and Justin Hollins to get a look on the inside, even though they’re listed as outside linebackers on the roster.
“You hate to see anybody go down even if it’s not too bad, but it does give those guys great opportunities,” Fangio added. “They are not one position right now that’s worried about reps.”
That’s definitely true, but it’s also concerning. During the offseason, the Broncos decided to not address what was seen as their biggest weakness, choosing instead to once again go with Davis and Jewell on the inside. Denver didn’t draft a middle linebacker, nor did they sign one in free agency.
As a result, the team was already thin at that position. Now, they’re really scrambling for answers.
Davis and Jewell were seen as question marks this season. That being the case, players who were one or two spots behind them on the depth chart can only be considered as huge unknowns.
The group gets a chance to prove that they can fill the void, starting tomorrow in practice and continuing on Thursday night against the Seahawks. The Broncos can only hope they’re up to the task.
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