By Rick Brown
The Denver Broncos (2-0) are traveling to New York to play the Buffalo Bills (1-1) and may be doing so without some key offensive players. After beating the Dallas Cowboys (1-1) last week, a lot of the Broncos’ starters appeared on the Week 3 injury report.
Superstar Von Miller was listed with a knee injury but was a full participant in practice by Thursday and is fully expected to start. A few other starters also appeared on the injury list, including Jamaal Charles (NIR), Bradley Roby (Ankle), Darian Stewart (Groin), Aqib Talib (NIR), and Demaryius Thomas (Hamstring).By Thursday, everyone but Roby was a full participate in practice. Also listed on the injury report but is expected to play, Jeff Heurerman (Shoulder). The real loss could come from Garett Bolles (Lower Leg) and Bennie Fowler III (Concussion) if these two were to miss the game.
Bolles And Fowler Key Contributors On Offense
Last season, the Broncos were clearly missing a running game as the team was ranked in the bottom of the league in rushing yards. There was also talent lacking at the slot receiver as the third most catches last season were made by Devontae Booker, who plays running back. The Broncos spent a first round draft pick on Bolles in the 2017 draft to help bolster the offensive line, and it has paid off as the Broncos are the No. 1 rushing team in the NFL through two weeks.
Trevor Siemian has also found a new weapon in the slot as Fowler has emerged and has two touchdown catches. The Bills defense is an underappreciated unit, the second overall team on defense by giving up just 234.5 yards a game. This Bills defense held Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers (2-0) to only nine points and no touchdowns. If Bolles does miss this week’s game, the Broncos run game would suffer and it would have rippling effects to the whole team.
If the Broncos are unable to run the ball, then the team will have to depend on Siemian to win the game. While he has looked especially good these two past weeks, it is because the team as a whole is working as one unit. Last year when the Broncos were ineffective running the ball, Siemian looked pretty pedestrian. The Broncos were the fourth-worst team in three-and-outs in 2016. There will be times when the Broncos will need to lean on the passing game to win games, but against this Bills defense, that is tough task to accomplish.
If Bolles doesn’t play, the Broncos could start Donald Stephenson or Allen Barbre. Stephenson has not played up to the his potential since signing with the team as a free agent in 2016. Barbre joined the Broncos in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) during the offseason. While missing Bolles would be a devastating blow to the Broncos’ offensive line, there is always the chance he makes the injury worse by rushing back to play.
The Bills will also be without some key players for this week’s matchup.
Bills Missing Key Players Up Front
Buffalo will be without starting tackle Cordy Glenn and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus for Sunday’s game against the Broncos. Look for the Bills’ defensive line to be a bit thin as defensive tackle Jerel Worthy will also be out this week.
While this Bills team may not have a lot of superstar recognition, there is a lot of talent on the roster. Their rushing attack is consistently in the top five of the league every year. The dominating Buffalo defense continually finishes in the top 10 every year as well. The Bills will have to contend with Von Miller and the Broncos pass rush without one of the best tackles in football.
On the defensive side, Buffalo may have a tough time stopping the Broncos running game. The defensive line starts with Dareus’ ability to command so many double teams, especially in the middle of the line. This creates more one-on-one matchups between the offense and the defense.
Denver Broncos Injury Report
(T) Bolles, Garett (Lower Leg) – Limited Participation in Practice
(WR) Fowler III, Bennie – Limited Participation in Practice
(CB) Langley, Brendan (Knee) – Did Not Participate In Practice
(QB) Lynch, Paxton (Shoulder) – Did Not Participate In Practice
Buffalo Bills Injury Report
(DT) Dareus, Marcell (Ankle) – Did Not Participate In Practice
(T) Glenn, Cordy (Foot/ankle – Did Not Participate In Practice
(DT) Worthy, Jerel (Concussion) – Did Not Participate In Practice