ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) – The Denver Broncos might not have to wait long to see if Chris Clark is worth every penny of the two-year contract extension he signed Monday – he could be protecting Peyton Manning’s blindside this weekend.
All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady hurt his left foot in the waning minutes of the Denver Broncos’ 41-23 win over the New York Giants on Sunday, and there’s a possibility he could miss a game for the first time in his six-year NFL career.
Coach John Fox said Monday the team was still evaluating Clady’s “left foot sprain,” and he declined to address an ESPN report that the three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro was expected to miss some time with a Lisfranc sprain.
“No, because I’m not into fortune-telling or tea leaves or any of that good stuff,” Fox said. “Right now, it’s exactly what I said – it’s a left foot sprain. When we know something, we’ll let all the fortune-tellers know.”
The players were off Monday.
A Lisfranc sprain is an injury to the ligament that holds the first two toes in place and usually requires long and arduous rehab with no guarantee of success.
Clady got hurt when Giants defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins rolled into his legs from behind during a 2-yard run by Montee Ball with 3:43 left in the game Sunday. Clady hobbled off the field and was replaced by Clark, who took the final four snaps on offense at left tackle as Manning finished with a zero-sack day.
Clady was limping badly in the locker room after the game and the Broncos hadn’t been back for very long when Clark signed his two-year contract extension Monday.
Clark is a fifth-year pro with a half-dozen NFL starts – all of which came at tight end during the Tim Tebow experiment in Denver two years ago. This year, he filled in at left tackle almost the entire offseason while Clady was recuperating from shoulder surgery.
Clady, who signed a $52.5 million, five-year deal in July, has started 82 straight regular-season games plus three playoff games since the Broncos drafted him in the first round out of Boise State in 2008.
Fox pointed to Clark’s new contract extension as an example of the faith they have in him if he has to fill in for Clady.
“He got a lot of work there (at left tackle) this training camp as well as the preseason games,” Fox said, “and we have the utmost confidence in Chris Clark.”
Clark is the second Broncos offensive lineman to sign a two-year extension in five days. Seventh-year pro Manny Ramirez signed his deal on Thursday, one week after making his first career start at center.
Clark said this summer that he was preparing as though he’d be the starting left tackle, not just keeping the seat warm for Clady. Playing with the starters, he said, allowed him and Manning to get comfortable working together.
– By Arnie Stapleton, AP Sports Writer
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