DENVER (CBS4/AP) – Linebacker Joe Mays is out for the season after suffering a serious injury to his lower left leg in the Denver Broncos’ 34-14 win over the New Orleans Saints.

“He did have a fracture in his fibula of the left ankle,” coach John Fox said Monday.

Mays was injured while blocking for punt returner Trindon Holliday in the fourth quarter Sunday night when a Saints player inadvertently leg-whipped him, and he had to be helped off the field.

Mays has had a rough season since signing a three-year, $12 million deal in the offseason. He was suspended for a game and docked $50,000 for an illegal hit on Houston QB Matt Schaub and lost his starting middle linebacker job two weeks ago to veteran Keith Brooking.

That relegated Mays, who was making $4.5 million this season, to special teams duty.

“We all know that injuries are a big part of this game. You hate to lose a warrior, a guy that we all were counting on. He’s been a very big part of this football team. I spoke to him last night after the game and told him to keep his head up,” Brooking said on Monday. “My third year in the NFL, I had a lisfranc injury. I was put on IR and missed 11 games. It was a very tough time for me. The first serious injury I’d ever had, really the first time I’ve missed significant time playing football, period, and I haven’t missed a game since. The main things are for him just to keep his head up, keep fighting, believing and don’t allow us to get him down. More than anything, it’s just motivation for him to come back even better than he was before.”

The Broncos could promote Mike Mohamed from their practice squad to take Mays’ roster spot. They’ll also getD.J. Williams back from his second suspension in a couple of weeks.

The team’s leading tackler in four of the last five seasons, Williams is serving an NFL-mandated three-game ban over his August conviction for driving while ability impaired. This is on top of the six-game suspension he completed for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. He’s eligible to return for the Broncos’ game Nov. 18 against San Diego.

Teammate Wesley Woodyard said Mays will definitely be missed.

“Things won’t be the same without having him out there, his presence, his leadership and his ability to go out there and make plays,” he said.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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