(AP) – The Denver Broncos haven’t lost a game yet, but they have lost five starters in two weeks and the latest injury, to inside linebacker Josey Jewell, appears the most serious. Coach Vic Fangio wouldn’t confirm reports Monday that the fourth-year inside linebacker is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle.
“Yeah, they’re still doing the testing on him, don’t have a total verdict on him yet,” Fangio said a day after the Broncos’ 23-13 win at Jacksonville.
Teammates, however, were talking as though they’d be without their defensive play-caller, who got hurt on a special teams play, for some time.
“I just was having breakfast with him, kind of talking with him about things and telling him I’m here for him, anything he needs,” said fill-in Justin Strnad, who missed his rookie season last year after breaking his wrist in training camp.
“That’s something I went through last year, so anything he needs, I’m here to help him.”
Inside linebacker Alexander Johnson took over the play calling Sunday after Jewell was injured. Fangio said he hasn’t decided whether Johnson or Justin Strnad will get those duties Sunday against the New York Jets (0-2).
Strnad had those duties for 10 days in August when Jewell was sidelined with a pulled groin.
“For me being out last year, those reps I was able to get in camp with Josey being out were crucial,” Strnad said. “I’m essentially like a rookie, so it was nice to get those snaps and get that experience with the starters out there because obviously playing with those guys it’s a different level of football, different speed and communications.
“But as far as the opportunity it’s not ideal like how you want an opportunity to come. The last few months me and Josey have grown pretty close. He’s a great player, great teammate and really one of the big leaders on our defense. So, to lose him is obviously a big loss for this team.”
Now it’s up to Strnad to mitigate that loss.
“I’m just really just prepared to help this team in any way possible, whether it be run game, coverage, anything, I’m just here,” Strnad said. “We’ve got a good thing rolling right now. We’re 2-0 and I’m just here to do my job. Whatever the coaches need me to do I’m here to do it and I think I’m capable of doing all those things.”
By ARNIE STAPLETON, AP Pro Football Writer
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