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Broncos notes: Fant, Bolles won't play vs. Cowboys and Reed may be out, too

After Von Miller trade, Malik Reed aggravated his groin/hip injury. Calvin Anderson fills in for Bolles.
Credit: AP
Denver Broncos offensive tackle Garett Bolles (72) is helped after an injury against the Washington Football Team during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Why does this always seem to happen?

Von Miller, the Broncos’ top pass rusher, gets traded away Monday, and three days later Malik Reed, the team’s second-best pass rusher who was coming off a monster game, aggravated a groin injury near the hip area Thursday and missed practice Friday.

It’s the same injury Reed battled through last week, yet he not only made it to game day he had a pass breakup on fourth-and-1 from the Denver 19 on the first defensive series, then finished with sacks on Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke on the final two drives from deep in Denver territory.

Reed was listed as questionable on the Broncos’ final injury report for their game Sunday at 6-1 Dallas. But missing practice Friday is never a good sign for a player who wants to play on Sunday.

"I think (Saturday) will tell us something, too," said head coach Vic Fangio.

Seventh-round rookie Jonathon Cooper started in place of the hobbled Miller last week and newcomer Stephen Weatherly may be the choice to start if Reed can’t play against the Cowboys. Aaron Patrick, another newcomer who returned from his ankle injury last week, is a third available outside linebacker.

Last year, it was the cornerback position for the Broncos. If one got hurt, another was sure to follow. This year it’s been linebackers, both inside and outside, that have been decimated by injuries.

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant (87) looks on during the national anthem before the start of an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Fant, Bolles out

The Broncos will also be without starting tight end Noah Fant, who is down with COVID-19, as is backup guard Netane Muti. Left tackle Garett Bolles won’t play because of a left high ankle sprain.

Fant is 5th in the league among tight ends with 37 receptions and his 320 receiving yards rank 10th. With Fant sidelined, Albert Okwuegbunam is expected to start with veteran Eric Saubert getting a few more snaps. Okwuegbunam has been banged up most of the year so fullback Andrew Beck may get some tight end snaps. The Broncos also have undrafted rookie Shaun Beyer and just signed Caleb Wilson as tight ends on their practice squad.

Replacing Bolles

Calvin Anderson got two starts last season – once for the injured Demar Dotson at right tackle against the Raiders and once at left tackle for Bolles, who woke up sick the morning of the Carolina game. Anderson will get his third career start Sunday against the Cowboys in place of Bolles, who is out this week and possibly next week with the ankle injury.

"Obviously it (stinks)," Anderson said Friday. "Garett is one of the people on this team that would hate to miss any game, for any reason. Even though there was no way he should’ve gone this week, he still wanted to go. I think for me—there’s two parts of it. One, obviously is Garett is my boy, and I know that position is sacred to him. I want to honor him by playing it well.

"Then for me personally, it’s another opportunity, man. This is what you live for in the league. You don’t get a lot of moments. So when your moment comes, it’s about taking advantage of it and putting your preparation to work on the field."

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos offensive tackle Calvin Anderson (76) looks on against the Washington Football Team during an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Bronco Bits

Cam Fleming, a veteran offensive tackle, has been inactive through the Broncos’ first eight games this year but he will dress as the swing tackle behind Anderson and right tackle Bobby Massie on Sunday against Dallas, where Fleming was the team’s swing tackle and part-time starter in 2018-19. …

Fangio said Nate Hairston would be the team’s nickel corner in place of the injured Bryce Callahan with benched veteran Kyle Fuller also to be worked in.

RELATED: Noah Fant placed on COVID-19 reserve

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