ENGLEWOOD - The Denver Broncos will be missing their best special teams players for another game or so after Cody Latimer underwent a blood injection procedure in his right knee last week.
Latimer has been bothered since the start of preseason with patella tendinitis in his right knee. He still was excelling as a kickoff returner, where he ranks second in the NFL with a 28.4-yard average, and as a gunner on punt and kickoff coverage.
His knee condition became aggravated while playing on the Buffalo Bills’ artificial surface in week 3 and Latimer did not play in the Broncos’ week 4 win last week against the Oakland Raiders.
He underwent a Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP) procedure during the bye week. Blood was drawn from his arm, then the blood was spun in a device. The blood is separated and the plasma, platelets and red and white blood cells were injected into his knee.
“It was lingering and it was the bye week so we decided to get it done,’’ Latimer said Monday.
Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods and Rafael Nadal are among the well-known athletes who have had the PRP procedure that is often recommended for those with tendon injuries.
The recovery is typically three or four weeks. With the bye counting as one week, Latimer will miss this Sunday’s game against the New York Giants and while there is hope he can play Oct. 22 against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Monday night game October 30 at AFC West-leading Kansas City may be more realistic.
“It’s feeling good now,’’ Latimer said. “I wanted to get this over with now so the rest of the year I’m straight.’’
Ray, Butt nearing return
Broncos’ head coach Vance Joseph revealed during his press conference Monday that veteran outside linebacker Shane Ray and rookie tight end Jake Butt will come off their respect injured reserve lists and start practicing next Monday.
Ray has been on a six-week injured reserve list after undergoing surgery to repair ligament damage in his left wrist, an injury suffered on the first day of training camp.
Ray must practice for two weeks, but because the Broncos play Monday night at Kansas City, he will be able to play in that game.
“That one day makes a difference,’’ said Ray, who grew up outside of Kansas City and recently had two pins removed from his wrist. “Can’t wait.’’
Butt suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during Michigan’s 33-32 Orange Bowl loss to Florida State last December 30.
The Broncos drafted him in the fifth round, anyway, and placed him on their non-football-related injured list, where he had to stay for six weeks. He will have to practice for at least two weeks, but the Broncos could have him practice a third week before making a decision on whether to activate him onto their 53-man roster, or place him on season-ending injured reserve.
The signs are positive, though, Butt will help the Broncos in the second half of the season.
“I feel good,’’ Butt said. “Obviously, for me being a competitor the sooner I can help this team the better but I have my full trust in this coaching staff and this group of trainers.’’
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