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Broncos fear McDonald's shoulder injury related to previous problem

McDonald, 31, needs to see his doctors and get more tests before he can return to the practice field.
Credit: Aaron Doster, USA TODAY Sports

ENGLEWOOD – Broncos defensive tackle Clinton McDonald was held out of the team’s walkthrough Tuesday amid concerns he’s dealing with a shoulder issue related to the infection that forced him to sit out the offseason, sources told 9NEWS.

The infection – which had prevented McDonald from participating in the Broncos’ 10 organized team activities (OTA) and three minicamp sessions from late-May to mid-June -- had cleared to the point he passed his training camp physical exam two weeks ago.

McDonald participated in the first nine camp practices, including the one held Tuesday morning at the Broncos’ UCHealth Training Center headquarters.

But McDonald, 31, needs to see his doctors and get more tests before he can return to the practice field.

Dr. David Altchek, a renowned orthopedic surgeon from New York, had previously determined McDonald suffered an infection stemming from hardware inserted into his right shoulder/pectoral area during a 2015 surgery.

McDonald said he felt discomfort last season but still registered 5.0 sacks as a defensive tackle in Tampa Bay’s 4-3 defense. He was a good fit for the Broncos, who needed not only his interior pass rush but his veteran leadership presence in the locker room.

The Broncos were aware of McDonald’s shoulder issue but signed him to a two-year, $7 million deal with contractual safeguards in place.

Among them was the passing of a physical. When the infection didn’t clear by the start of minicamp, McDonald had to convert his fully guaranteed, $3 million salary to a non-guaranteed roster bonus that allowed him to earn his $3 million back with each game played.

But now another possible setback.

In large part because he did miss the entire offseason, McDonald was listed as a third-string defensive end behind Adam Gotsis and DeMarcus Walker on the Broncos’ first depth chart that was released Tuesday. McDonald, though, had been making more plays as camp went along.