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The Broncos lose their $51 million right tackle after just 10 snaps

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(Photo by Alika Jenner / Getty Images)

The Broncos new-look offensive line didn’t get much of a chance to show what they can do. In just the first game of the season, the team lost Ja’Wuan James to a knee injury, forcing some in-game adjustments against the Raiders.

Now, it looks like those changes will be semi-permanent, as the high-priced right tackle will be sidelined for some time. Although, the news isn’t as bad as some feared on Monday night and into Tuesday.

With James sidelined, Elijah Wilkinson will become Denver’s starting right tackle. It’s not unfamiliar territory, as the third-year pro spent a lot of time at that position during training camp while James was out with assorted other ailments.

That said, the news is a tough blow for the Broncos. Losing a player they signed to a four-year, $51-million contract during the first half of his first game in the orange and blue is disappointing, to say the least. In addition, it eliminates some of the team’s depth in the trenches, as Wilkinson is able to play either tackle position, as well as guard. With their most-versatile lineman now in the starting lineup, Denver will be stretched thin if anyone else goes down to an injury.

How long James will be out of the lineup remains the big question. At this point, there is no definitive timetable.

“He’ll miss a couple of weeks to start off the bat,” Vic Fangio said after practice on Wednesday. “Then from there, we’ll see.”

The Broncos head coach seemed to offer a ray of hope that the injury could be less serious than originally feared.

“He tweaked his knee,” Fangio added. (It’s) a sprained knee, which could mean a lot of things.”

For more information on this breaking story, be sure to tune into FM 104.3 The Fan throughout the day and evening.