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Broncos notes: Running back Boone out 4-6 weeks with quad injury

Risner OK after knee score. Bolles calls skirmish with Chubb last week a battle among brothers. Teams calling on Broncos cornerbacks.

EAGAN, Minn. — Mike Boone was running around left end in the clear, 5 yards from scoring a touchdown untouched when the proverbial parachute popped out.

Boone’s left leg grabbed. He pulled up hobbling, then went down. The Broncos’ training staff quickly attended to the No. 3 running back, who put his hands on his quad.

The quad strain was so bad, Boone had to be carted off. A source told 9News that following an MRI, Boone won't need surgery although he will be sidelined four to six weeks.

While it's tough news for Boone, who has having a nice training camp and was going to get his first real shot at some game-day carries, it could have been worse.

Royce Freeman may no longer be on the trading block. Instead, Freeman may be back as the Broncos’ No. 3 rusher behind Melvin Gordon III and second-round rookie Javontae Williams.

Again, the Broncos could do a lot worse.

"Royce has had a good camp," Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said after the second and final joint practice session here Thursday afternoon with the Minnesota Vikings at the TCO Performance Center. "Very smart football player. Second year in this system. Royce is definitely an NFL back and NFL quality back. And we’re happy to have the amount of backs that we have. We have a good crew of running backs."

Minutes before Boone pulled his quad, Broncos’ starting left guard Dalton Risner went down with a knee injury. For a good minute, his nearby linemate, left tackle Garett Bolles kneeled in concern next to Risner. Risner was able to get up and walk off, although did not finish the practice, replaced by second-year left guard Netane Muti.

"Great," Risner said when asked by 9NEWS how he felt. "I was just held out of the final drill as a precaution."

He added if the No. 1 offensive line is playing Saturday afternoon, he’ll be playing.

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater smiles as he talks with his former Minnesota Vikings coaches during a joint NFL football training camp Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, in Eagan, Minn. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

QB competition

The Vikings’ defense seemed to have the better of the play Thursday as neither Drew Lock or Teddy Bridgewater had great days. Bridgewater threw the best pass, a deep crossing post pattern to KJ Hamler for a touchdown. But Bridgewater was also picked off twice by Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks – both in the red zone area, once in 7 on 7 and the other during 11 on 11 team drill.

Lock threw no picks but he overthrew a wide-open Hamler on a deep post. Lock will start the Broncos’ first preseason game Saturday against the Vikings (kickoff is 2 p.m., Channel 20). Bridgewater will start the second preseason game next Saturday, Aug. 21 (kickoff 8 p.m., Channel 20).

Bolles fight

Five days after his skirmish with edge rusher Bradley Chubb, left tackle Garett Bolles said the fight – which got physical before it became nastier with words – was like two siblings going at it.

"Me and Bradley are brothers," Bolles said. "It was a brother fight. Brothers have competition. I love that guy dearly. I’m glad I don’t have to go up against him on Sundays. He helps make me the best left tackle I can be."

The incident began when Chubb jumped offsides and Bolles protected himself by accidentally slapping Chubb’s face mask. It escalated over the next two plays with both players spotted rolling on the ground. An exchange of insults followed for several minutes.

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos general manager George Paton watches over his players during a joint NFL football practice with the Minnesota Vikings on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, in Eagan, Minn. (Anthony Souffle/Star Tribune via AP)

Teams wonder if 4 a crowd

Training camp wraps up in a week and the Broncos remain committed to playing four, top-rated, well-paid cornerbacks in Ronald Darby ($10 million), Kyle Fuller ($9.5 million), rookie Pat Surtain II ($13.266) and Bryce Callahan ($7.2 million) who are making a combined $40 million a year.

Other cornerback-needy teams, though, are getting in line in case the Broncos decide to go with the more usual three elite corners.

"We’re fortunate we have a player in Surtain that can play multiple positions at a young age," said general manager George Paton. "Not many rookies can play three positions. It’s a really good problem to have. It’s Vic’s problem, but you can’t have enough of those guys. Corners, a lot of them go down so we’re really happy with our depth. We have a lot of teams calling us on our depth. But we like our corners, that’s for sure."

Bronco Bits

Two of the Broncos’ top four receivers, Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick, were held out of practice Thursday, which could be a sign they won’t play Saturday against the Vikings. …

Even Bridgewater says Lock has a stronger arm, but it doesn’t cause offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to change the playbook from QB to QB: "I don’t think so. You saw Teddy throw a nice crossing post today. I think offensively, all the throws within our offense are really designed—at least in our mind—for both quarterbacks that we have. We don’t call them differently as you compare Teddy to Drew. Their styles are probably a little bit different, and their attributes are a little bit different, but I think you can call any play with both of those guys."

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