ENGLEWOOD—No team has done a better job overcoming injuries like the Denver Broncos have the past 1 ½ seasons.
This one won’t be so easy.
Aqib Talib flew Wednesday to California to get a second medical opinion on his lower back Thursday.
Talib is dealing with a disc issue he first felt grab him during pregame of the Broncos’ game two weeks ago against Houston. He missed just one play in that game as his back loosened up, but he was unable to play Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.
The good news is the second doctor did not recommend immediate surgery, but it doesn’t take a football genius to realize it doesn’t look good for Talib playing this Sunday night against the Oakland Raiders.
“It would definitely be harder this week because they have better receivers than the Chargers,’’ said Chris Harris Jr., who plays opposite Talib as the Broncos’ starting cornerbacks. “But I’ll be able to communicate with these guys, keep everybody in order, make sure everybody’s prepared.’’
Yes, the Broncos beat the Chargers without Talib this past Sunday. But the Chargers’ top receivers are Travis Benjamin and Dontrelle Inman, who are nice No. 2 and No. 3-type receivers.
Never mind what Broncos safety T.J. Ward said about the Raiders receivers not being elite.
Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are both terrific.
Besides Talib, backup corner Kayvon Webster may also miss the Raiders’ game because of a hamstring strain.
Talib’s absence would not be about Bradley Roby. Roby is a legit NFL corner. He is more than capable of replacing Talib as the starting corner – although Talib is rated as the NFL’s top cornerback this season as graded by Pro Football Focus.
Talib’s absence would be more about Lorenzo Doss stepping into Roby’s nickel spot. Doss had an outstanding offseason and training camp, but he struggled in the final preseason game at Arizona.
He was inactive in six of the Broncos’ first seven games, but he came through when forced into the nickel role against San Diego. Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers went after Doss but without much success.
“Doss did good, man,” Harris said. “One thing about Doss is he’s always going to be around the ball. He just has to be smart about when to pick his shots as to when to make those plays. But he definitely can get the job done.’’
Doss deflected one pass into safety Darian Stewart’s hands for an interception against Rivers and broke up a fourth-and-goal pass at the 2 that was intended for tight end Hunter Henry.
“He’s a smart player, but it’s instincts,’’ said Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. “He anticipates well and then does it. Some guys react quick, but they don’t anticipate and he anticipates things. He kind of ran our other quarterback (Mark Sanchez) out of here with two, 100-yard interceptions. He made some plays in training camp and he’s continued to do that.”