ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Wins are nice for the moment but there has been a cost as the Denver Broncos continue to absorb injury hits to their starting lineup.
Josey Jewell, a starting inside linebacker and the player who calls the plays in the defensive huddle, is going on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle, a source confirmed to 9NEWS.
The injury will most likely sideline Jewell for the year. He appeared to suffer the injury while making a terrific block during a special teams punt return play.
Jewell had started 18 consecutive games for the Broncos and was their second-leading tackler last season with 113.
Alexander Johnson, who had a team-most 124 tackles last season, may take over the play-calling duties, and second-year starter Justin Strnad will replace Jewell. The Broncos also have third-round rookie Baron Browning as an inside linebacker, although he most a significant portion of the offseason and training camp with a knee injury.
"I've seen them all practice, I've seen them all play,'' said defensive tackle Shelby Harris. "I've seen the way Justin (Strnad) analyzes the game and I think he's ready to take that next step.
"It's crappy losing your guys. Chubb, losing Jewell. But I believe in the guys behind them.''
Jewell joins starting cornerback Ronald Darby (hamstring) and receiver Jerry Jeudy (high ankle sprain) on IR. Darby and Jeudy missed the Broncos’ win Sunday at Jacksonville and are both expected to be out another four or five games.
Another Broncos’ starter, outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, has played less than a half through two games because of an ankle injury that was aggravated while playing in the 23-13 win at Jacksonville.
The Broncos do hope to get right guard Graham Glasgow back in the starting lineup for their home opener Sunday against the New York Jets. Glasgow was held out of the Jacksonville game after experiencing an irregular heartbeat during the Broncos’ season-opening, 27-13 against the New York Giants.
Strnad replaced Jewell in the game against the Jaguars and had five tackles among his 23 defensive snaps.
“I was pleased with the way he played,'' said head coach Vic Fangio. "He was far from perfect. There’s a lot of things he could do better. But moving forward, now that he knows he may be the guy if Josey is out, he’ll get more practice and be more mentally ready for it. Hopefully he’ll play well.”
Strnad was a fifth-round draft pick out of Wake Forest last year but wrist surgery from a training camp injury caused him to miss his entire rookie season. He got significant playing time during the preseason. And now he has his opportunity, albeit at the expense of his teammate Jewell.
“I was having breakfast with him and kind of talking to him about things,'' Strnad said. "I was just telling him I’m here for him, anything he needs. This is something I kind of went through last year, so anything he needs, I’m here to help.”
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