By Rich Kurtzman
“Ouch.” “Oof.” “Oh, no!”
These are the sounds being made on the field and in the homes of Denver Broncos fans as they watch their beloved team go to battle each week. Of course, no team is exempt from feeling injuries over the course of the grueling, 16-game regular season in the collision sport of football. But the rash of injuries over the last few weeks is threatening the Broncos’ hopes of winning another Super Bowl, of “Chasing Lombardi,” as GM John Elway charged them with in March.
Last week, Montee Ball and Quinton Carter were placed on the Injured Reserve, ending their seasons. Ball began the season as the starting running back, and even though he hadn’t been able to contribute in a meaningful way for weeks, his presence with the team would have been a boost in the postseason. Ball is the bigger, bruising back, and being able to pick up the tough yards on short yardage situations is important in the playoffs. Carter is a backup safety who was really playing well on special teams, using speed and his hard-hitting ability to lay into opponents.
Then, after the victory over the San Diego Chargers which clinched the AFC West for a fourth straight time, Danny Trevathan’s season came to an end and many more valuable players were injured as well. For the athletically gifted linebacker Trevathan, it was a season full of leg injuries in which he possibly didn’t give any of them enough time to heal, as they kept springing up. After breaking two different bones in his leg, Trevathan dislocated the kneecap and it needs surgery.
Also hurt during that game was his backup-turned-starter Brandon Marshall, depleting an already incredibly thin linebacking corps. While Denver’s defense is strong up front and in the secondary, the middle of the field is filled with backups and bench guys like Steven Johnson, Larmin Barrow, Todd Davis and Corey Nelson. Marshall will be back in 1-2 weeks, but in the meantime, the Broncos defense may be exploited in the middle.
On the offensive side, the team’s two most important players – Peyton Manning and Ryan Clady – each hurt thighs. Manning was able to play through the thigh as well as the flu, while Clady had to sit on the bench. For an offensive lineman, the thigh contains important muscles they use on every play first to just get into their stance and then to push off and block opponents. When Clady went down, Chris Clark played for him and was a noticeable downgrade. We all remember Clark getting worked by opposing pass-rushers in Super Bowl XLVIII and it’s clear Denver needs Clady protecting Peyton’s blindside for the offense to click like it should.
In fact, the Broncos need Marshall, Manning and Clady to be healthy if they want to fulfill those aspirations of playing in the big game again this season. Luckily, none of their injuries are major and each should be able to continue to contribute as the season continues.
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Rich Kurtzman is a Denver native, Colorado State University alumnus, sports nerd, athletics enthusiast, and competition junkie. Currently writing for a multitude of websites while working on books, one on the history of the Denver Broncos and Mile High Stadium. Rich is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.