Broncos Fear Serious Injuries for Key Backups [Report]

Broncos HC Vic Fangio

Getty Vic Fangio

The Denver Broncos emerged victorious in their preseason-opener, but it cost them a pair of rotational defenders.

9News insider Mike Klis reports the Broncos fear inside linebacker Joe Jones and defensive lineman Billy Winn sustained partially torn triceps injuries against the Atlanta Falcons.

Both players are scheduled to undergo MRIs on Friday, which should confirm their respective diagnosis. Head coach Vic Fangio, speaking after the game, acknowledged that Jones hurt his elbow amid the 14-10 win, but wouldn’t comment on his immediate status.

A third-year veteran and key special-teamer, Jones collected two tackles prior to exiting in the second quarter. The 25-year-old started in place of Todd Davis, who suffered a calf injury during training camp that will sideline him for another few weeks.

Jones was penciled in as the top backup to starting ILB Josey Jewell on the team’s first depth chart, released earlier this week. Though Fangio was quick to note its lack of importance.

“I’m going to be honest with you. I wouldn’t read it at all,” he said Monday. “They come in to me and said ask me to put this depth chart together. I gave it to the coaches said just put it there. Anything—you guys know who’s been working with the ones. Anything after that is a free for all, and if you put any stock in to it you’re mistaken.”

Winn returned to Denver for his second tour of duty on April 22, signing a one-year deal. Claimed in 2016 as an injury replacement, Winn appeared in all 16 regular season games that year and made two starts, logging 19 tackles.

Winn, 30, returned to the Broncos in 2017 but blew out his ACL during a preseason game, sending him to injured reserve. A subsequent report later stated he suffered “extensive” damage to his MCL and right meniscus tendon. Winn was out of football in 2018.

Impact of Jones’ Injury

As previously mentioned, Jones had been operating as Davis’ fill-in, so his absence further weakens the unit.

Fortunately for the Broncos, they’re loaded with off-ball ‘backers — young ones, in particular. Fangio likes to rotate the group, which also includes Alexander Johnson, undrafted free agent Josh Watson and rookie fifth-round pick Justin Hollins.

Alexander and Watson each recorded five tackles and a QB hit against Atlanta. Hollins, who’s doubling at OLB, logged just one stop.

“It’s a good question and I am anxious to know that answer, and that’s what the tape is going to tell me,” Fangio said when asked how Hollins played. “Anything else I would tell you would be a guess.”

Impact of Winn’s Injury

Winn was buried on the depth chart, listed as the No. 3 defensive end behind starter Adam Gotsis and 2017 second-rounder DeMarcus Walker. He was also being pushed by third-round rookie Dre’Mont Jones, who “had some nice plays there at the end,” per Fangio.

Evidently injury-prone, Winn could be released with a settlement as Denver clears additional reps for Jones and Walker — the future of the position.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter @KelbermanNFL.