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Broncos' offensive line shuffle figures to extend invitation to 'The Belly'

Pat Surtain has knee sprain. Right tackle Bobby Massie will miss a game or two with knee and ankle injuries.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Enough developmental time. It’s time to break out “The Belly.”

“He’s ready,’’ said head coach Vic Fangio.

Quinn “The Belly” Meinerz is expected to become the Broncos’ new starting right guard after veteran Graham Glasgow suffered a season-ending broken leg near his left ankle Sunday during the Broncos’ surprisingly dominant 30-16 win at Dallas.

Meinerz, a third-round rookie from Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater whose football program didn’t play in 2020 because of COVID-19, didn’t see the field in the first two games he dressed for the Broncos.

He did get one start at left guard in place of the injured Dalton Risner, then filled in for Glasgow at right guard in the second half against the Cowboys.

Meinerz made an eye-opening pull from his right guard spot to the left while leading a 30-yard tackle-breaking power run by rookie running back Javonte Williams.

“That’s kind of the role I like to take, so I saw that and was, 'Dang, OK, all right. I see you hustling downfield and mauling dudes,' " Risner said of Meinerz, who carried his 325 pounds downfield like he was 205.

Credit: Brian Olson/KUSA

The Broncos finished the game against the Cowboys with just one offensive line starter – center Lloyd Cushenberry III. Left tackle Garett Bolles didn’t play because of a Grade 2 high ankle sprain. Calvin Anderson started in his place Sunday and played every snap against the Cowboys.

RELATED: Broncos whip heavily-favored Cowboys, 30-16

Fangio said Bolles may sit out one more game, which would be this Sunday against the Eagles. With Bolles not going on injured reserve, that would give him one more week to heal during the following bye and be ready to start Nov. 28 against the Chargers at Empower Field at Mile High.

Glasgow suffered his injury on the final play of the first half. Right tackle Bobby Massie hobbled off with an ankle and knee injury in the first half.

Risner missed the final nine offensive snaps at left guard against the Cowboys because of a shoulder injury, but he was removed only as a precaution and will play against the Eagles.

“I’m fine,’’ Risner said. “I got landed on. I got back and finished the drive. There was still like eight plays left in the drive. Finished it, went to the sideline, they wanted to check me out. We were up in the game so coach (Mike) Munchak said, ‘Let’s rest you, we need you for next week, we already had two injuries on the offensive line.’ Got (Austin) Schlottmann some reps in there, No. 71, and he kicked some butt. We’ve got guys who can fill in for us and do a heckuva job, which is nice.”

Fangio said Massie would miss a game or two. The Broncos starting offensive tackles against the Eagles figure to be Anderson and Cam Fleming, with Risner and Meinerz at the guard positions and Cushenberry at center.

Netane Muti, who started two games in place of Glasgow earlier this season, returns to practice this week, but after missing the past two weeks with COVID-19, he figures to defer to Meinerz, who can play both guard spots and center.

Surtain has knee sprain

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos cornerback Pat Surtain II celebrates after intercepting a Jacksonville Jaguars pass during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

The Broncos were relieved that MRI results Monday showed rookie cornerback Pat Surtain II suffered no more than a knee sprain Sunday against Dallas. It's unlikely Surtain will be available for the game against the Eagles but with a following bye week there is hope he can play once the meat of the Broncos' AFC West begins November 28 against the Chargers.

If he can't play, Surtain, a starting outside cornerback, would be replaced by veteran Kendall Fuller, who started at nickel Sunday against the Cowboys after he was benched the previous three games. Ronald Darby is another starting outside corner, while Nate Hairston has also played plenty the past month or so.

The Broncos are also hoping to get corners Essang Bassey and Duke Dawson Jr. closer to game-ready this week as they return from their ACL injuries. Another cornerback, Michael Ojemudia, may return to practice this week after his prolonged injury stint with a hamstring strain.

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