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Josey Jewell no longer Pipped after Broncos linebacker gets job back

Todd Davis' release cleared path for Jewell, who had team-most 14 tackles in Broncos' opening game last year.
Credit: AP
Denver Broncos inside linebacker Josey Jewell lines up during an NFL football game between the Denver Broncos and the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

DENVER — Josey Jewell has been on both sides of the Wally Pipp phenomenon.

Last season, Jewell not only was the Broncos’ starting inside linebacker in their season opener against the Oakland Raiders, he led his team with a whopping 14 tackles.

But then came a hamstring injury that Jewell initially tried to play through. Todd Davis returned at linebacker for Game 3 and then Jewell was forced to miss Game 4 because of the hamstring. Alexander Johnson started Game 5 and Jewell was pretty much a special teamer the rest of the season.

Jewell finally got his starting job back after the Broncos released Davis on Friday.

"It’s not something you really want to do," Jewell said Friday night when asked about losing his job because of injury. “In college and in high school, that’s kind of how I got on the field. When somebody else got hurt, I came up and I took their spot. I’ve seen it before.

"That’s why health is so important in this game. Being able to stay injury free is one of the biggest things. It was unfortunate that it had to happen last year, but I’m excited for this year and what’s to come."

Wally Pipp was the New York Yankees’ first baseman until, as the story goes, he had a headache and couldn’t play one day in 1925. He was replaced by Lou Gehrig, who played in the next 2,130 consecutive games over 14 seasons.

Pipp was traded after that season to the Reds, where he did play three more years. Jewell got to stay with the Broncos to get his job back. Johnson will be the Broncos’ three-down linebacker with Jewell playing on run downs and coming off in favor of Mark Barron in sub packages.

"You never want to see a guy—one of your better friends—get cut or anything like that,’’ said Jewell, a Broncos’ fourth-round pick out of Iowa in 2018. “If it does happen, you want to step up to the plate and you want to be able to do the best you can.

"That’s what I’m going to do, and I know he would want that for me. He’s a great guy no matter what it is. I’m just going to go out there and give it my best and see what happens."

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