The favorites in the AFC have officially lost one of their best players for the rest of the season.
Left tackle Ryan Clady's season-ending foot injury might not generate the buzz that other injuries might, but it's a huge one. He has been one of the best left tackles in the game since his rookie year of 2008, and has played in every game since then. He won't play in any more games during this 2013 season that has so much promise for Denver. The team put Peyton Manning's blind-side protector on injured reserve, according to Mike Klis of the Denver Post.
Clady has a Lisfranc injury and the team obviously didn't think he could recover before the playoffs, or it would have put him on IR with a designation to return. Even the small hope of getting one of the best offensive tackles back by January would have been worth giving him that chance. Clady will have surgery, the Post reported.
The Broncos signed veteran tackle Winston Justice, but that's just for depth. The team will turn to Chris Clark, a fifth-year player who was undrafted and has six career starts, all in 2011. That's Manning's new left tackle, replacing one who was ranked fourth among all tackles last season by Pro Football Focus. Manning is 37 and in 2011 missed the entire season because of neck surgeries. This should all make Denver a bit nervous.
Manning has always had a knack for getting rid of the ball very quickly before the rush can get to him. He might need to be a bit quicker than normal the rest of the season.