Denver Broncos' center J.D. Walton is likely to miss several months recovering from an infection in his surgically repaired left ankle.
Walton had surgery to remove stabilizing hardware in his ankle on Monday, when doctors discovered the significant setback. He could return in October, but the Broncos are reportedly bracing for the possibility he'll miss the entire season.
Walton, who played in all but one snap of his first 37 career games, was injured in Denver's 37-6 victory over the Raiders on Sept. 30. He missed the remainder of the 2012 season with a fracture and dislocation of the joint.
During minicamp, offensive guard Manny Ramirez was the primary center. The Broncos drafted Philip Blake in the fourth round of the 2012 draft but wasn't active in the first two games last season and then was placed on injured reserve with a thumb injury on Sept. 21. Free agent Dan Koppen, who replaced Walton last season, remains unsigned but could get a call based on the latest diagnosis. Koppen will be 34 in September.
Longtime Peyton Manning teammate Jeff Saturday, released by the Green Bay Packers at the end of the 2012 season, might also make sense because of his relationship with Manning and experience in the up-tempo offense the Broncos employ. However, Saturday lost his starting spot in Green Bay last season and at 38, is well beyond his physical peak.
The Broncos have been down a similar path with right guard Chris Kuper, who had an almost identical injury in 2011.