The Denver Broncos have gone from one of a few serious favorites in the AFC to a team just hoping to catch a break.
The pending Von Miller suspension, which still has to be appealed, was the first major blow. Unless you want to go back to the offseason fiasco that led to Elvis Dumervil becoming a free agent.
Since then the injuries have been coming at a rapid pace since, and against Seattle, five starters left the game with injuries, although in most cases it seems they sat as a precaution.
Defensive lineman Derek Wolfe left on an ambulance with a scary neck injury, although he made the flight home. Two of the team's veteran stars, cornerback Champ Bailey (foot) and receiver Wes Welker (ankle), left the game with injuries. So did starting right guard Louis Vasquez (knee) and middle linebacker Stewart Bradley (wrist). Oh, and the Broncos' starters were down 33-7 at halftime to the Seahawks.
Other than that, it must have been a pretty fun trip.
Of the new injuries, Bailey's seems to be the most concerning. Reporters in the Broncos locker room said Bailey was walking with crutches, with a boot on his left foot. That's not a great look for a 35-year-old cornerback. USA Today's Lindsay Jones reported that a MRI showed no tears, but there's no timetable for his return.
The other injuries don't appear serious, but having some veterans banged up a bit in August just adds to the bad news for the Broncos. Offensive linemen Ryan Clady, J.D. Walton and Dan Koppen, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and tight ends Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen are some of the veterans who have missed significant time during training camp. Koppen is out for the season. And with the new wave of injuries, keep in mind that the Broncos play their first regular-season game three days before most of the NFL kicks off. They play Baltimore on Thursday, Sept. 5. That's less time for hurting players to heal.
There were other bad signs against Seattle, other than the injuries. The special teams were mostly terrible. Each of the team's top two running backs made big mistakes: Montee Ball missed a block on Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner that got Peyton Manning planted in the turf, and Ronnie Hillman fumbled a ball just before crossing the goal line that the Seahawks returned for a touchdown.
Preseason results aren't going to change that the Broncos have a tremendous passing offense and are still the runaway favorites in the AFC West. But no team will be happier to see August end.
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- Elvis Dumervil
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