ENGLEWOOD – Although the Broncos and Clinton McDonald are optimistic the interior defensive lineman will be fully healthy by the start of the 2018 season, it’s clear his physical ailment is taking a little longer than expected to heal.
Because it has, McDonald was unable to pass his physical on Monday. When he didn’t pass his physical, the Broncos agreed to restructure his two-year, $7 million contract so he would have a chance to make up a $1 million roster bonus he lost by failing the physical.
McDonald, 31, had 5.0 sacks as a Bucs’ defensive tackle last season, but then had a procedure in his shoulder and chest area before he headed into free agency. The Broncos were aware of the procedure when they reached agreement with him on a two-year, $7 million contract.
Like all NFL contracts, McDonald had to pass his physical exam to execute his deal. Although the agreement was reached back on March 21, the Broncos gave McDonald nearly three months -- until Monday, the day before mandatory minicamp -- to pass his physical exam.
Here was the initial 2018 portion of McDonald’s contract: $3 million base salary -- fully guaranteed once he passed his physical -- and $1 million roster bonus.
When he didn’t pass his physical, the $1 million roster bonus automatically became void and the $3 million salary was no longer guaranteed.
The Broncos could have kept it that way. Instead, they gave McDonald a second chance. His new 2018 deal: $1 million salary, non-guaranteed and $3 million in roster bonuses. He can collect $140,625 per game, up to $2.25 million if he is on the Broncos’ 53-man roster for all 16 games in 2018.
He can collect an additional $46,875 per game up to $750,000 if he is activated on the 46-man game-day roster.
The Broncos did McDonald a solid with this restructure.
McDonald has been mending slowly but surely. He had not been observing the Broncos’ OTA (organized team activity) practices, but Tuesday he was working on the side with assistant strength and conditioning coach Anthony Lomando.
McDonald is healing – just not as quickly as he had hoped.
Ray hoping to play in season opener
Pass-rushing outside linebacker Shane Ray said his injured left wrist started feeling sore after last season, even after he had returned to play following multiple procedures.
It was still sore this offseason and a checkup two weeks ago revealed “some damage in there that needed to be fixed,’’ he said.
He will have the wrist operated again Thursday in Houston. Although the expectation is Ray will be out three months – and therefore miss the early part of the regular season – he plans on accelerating his recovery.
“I’ve been hearing different things but two, two and a half, three months is a possible timetable,’’ Ray said. “But I think with this – because it’s bone and not the original surgery where they had to repair ligaments – [the fact] this is just a bone repair that I’ll be able to heal a lot faster and be ready for day one.’’
*Who is Marcus Rush and why was he lining up with the Denver first-team defense at left outside linebacker?
Rush, a week shy of his 27th birthday, prepped at Cincinnati’s famous Moeller High School and played his college ball at Michigan State.
Undrafted in 2015, he spent his entire rookie season on the San Francisco 49ers’ practice squad. In the 2016 preseason, his 6.0 sacks led the NFL. Yet, he settled for practice squads with the 49ers and Jacksonville that season, then Kansas City’s practice squad the first-half of 2017.
He was on the Broncos’ practice squad the final two weeks of last season. Rush got first-team reps Tuesday in place of Von Miller, who was getting a few vet reps off.
*Broncos’ No. 1 receiver Demaryius Thomas tweaked his foot early in practice Tuesday and watched the rest of the workout. He was replaced by fourth-round rookie DaeSean Hamilton while second-round rookie Courtland Sutton got some time in the slot with the No. 2 offense.
*Paxton Lynch took every rep with the second-team offense. Chad Kelly stuck with the No. 3 offense.
Through the first half of practice, Kelly was the more consistent performer. But later in a move-the-ball series, Lynch made the play of minicamp by rolling left and throwing a dart down the sideline complete to River Cracraft. Lynch’s offense finished off the drive with a touchdown.
*All three rookie running backs – Royce Freeman, Phillip Lindsay and David Williams – got their turns with Case Keenum’s first-string offense. Lindsay caught a couple swing passes that allowed him to showcase his acceleration and speed.