ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Last time we saw Nik Bonitto, the Denver Broncos’ top draft pick was getting sacks on back-to-back plays late in the final preseason game Aug. 27 against the Minnesota Vikings.
And by last time, that was the last time Bonitto has been seen in a game.
He dressed but didn’t play a snap in the Broncos’ season-opening, 17-16 loss at Seattle, then was inactive in game 2, a 16-9 win against the Houston Texans.
For a rookie who no doubt didn’t expect such inaction after the Broncos selected him out of Oklahoma with the No. 64 and final pick in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft, Bonitto has maintained a mature, professional attitude.
“Just be patient and keep working,’’ Bonitto said Thursday at his locker. “Keep working on defense, special teams being better. Grind in the weight room with (Loren) Landow, get bigger and stronger, things of that nature.’’
Bonitto has elite speed and athleticism for an outside linebacker but the Broncos drafted him knowing he had to get stronger to hold down the edge on running plays. He’s not the first to sit back early in his career. Shaq Barrett spent his entire rookie season of 2014 on the Broncos’ practice squad. Elvis Dumervil was a healthy scratch his first three games as a rookie in 2006.
Both eventually became NFL sack leaders – Dumervil with 17.0 in 2009 and Barrett with 19.5 for Tampa Bay in 2019.
“It’s really about staying ready,’’ Bonitto said. “The conversations I’ve had is don’t expect it to be a redshirt year. They want to make sure when time comes I’m ready.”
Surtain, Jeudy updates
As their injury status has been proclaimed day-to-day by head coach Nathaniel Hackett. Thursday was an encouraging day for Broncos’ cornerback Pat Surtain II and receiver Jerry Jeudy.
Both young standouts suffered first-half injuries Sunday against the Texans and didn’t return. Surtain has a shoulder injury but returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday. During the media viewing period, Surtain participated in all drills.
Jeudy didn’t practice but he was on the field wearing full pads, his helmet and practice uniform while snaring soft tosses on the side – an indication he is trying to make it to the Sunday night game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Right guard Quinn Meinerz also returned to practice on a limited basis for the first time since suffering a strained hamstring Sept. 12 at Seattle. All are expected to receive the evasive status of “questionable” for the game against the 49ers.
Injury report grows
The Broncos injury report grew 45 percent Thursday as the 11-play list Wednesday became 16 players long the next.
Added were nose tackle Mike Purcell (elbow), defensive lineman Dre'Mont Jones (neck), receiver Tyrie Cleveland (hamstring), outside linebacker Jonathon Cooper (hamstring) and starting left guard Dalton Risner (elbow). Risner didn't miss a snap in practice.
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