The Denver Broncos are holding their breath with Noah Fant.
The first-round rookie tight end sustained a foot injury during the first half of Monday’s preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers. Per team PR chief Patrick Smyth, Fant, who totaled seven yards on two grabs, is questionable to return.
Fant was injured following a reception in which his legs were taken out from under him. Replay showed Fant’s ankle turning awkwardly as he was brought down to the turf. He hobbled off the field and onto the bench, where Denver’s training staff evaluated him.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the injury is not considered serious.
Head coach Vic Fangio will update Fant’s status in his postgame press conference.
Second-year man Troy Fumagalli has taken over for Fant as the Broncos’ starting tight end. The club is already without Jake Butt (knee) and Jeff Heuerman (shoulder), both of whom were declared inactive.
Fant’s Arrow Was Ticking Upward
The Broncos are hoping the No. 20 overall selection escapes no worse for wear, as Fant has steadily impressed team brass with his forward-moving development. The Iowa stud experienced his share of hiccups, and certainly isn’t a finished product, but he’s progressing into an all-around starter.
Holding a State of Training Camp press conference Saturday, general manager John Elway claimed Fant is “good” and “what we thought he would be” through four months as a professional. Suffice it to say, Elway doesn’t regret trading up for him, nor passing on other blue-chip prospects for the ex-Hawkeye.
“The thing that we are really excited about is the fact that he’s a better blocker,” he said. “He’s physical and he still can get better there, but very physical, sticks his nose in there and very strong. I think that he can be a guy that can be a ‘Y,’ be a great down field threat, but also be able to block and do a good job in the blocking game and in the running game too. We’re excited about Noah.”
Tight End Room Cursed?
Fant’s injury adds to the collective misery that is Denver’s TE depth chart. Aforementioned were Butt and Heuerman; Austin Fort was lost to a torn ACL and Bug Howard is freshly recovered from an ankle ailment. Splitting hairs, it’s worth pointing out, too, that Fumagalli missed all of 2018 with a sports hernia.
Elway admitted the injury bug will affect the 53-man regular season roster when it’s finalized on Aug. 31. It’s possible the Broncos sign a warm body for insurance purposes prior to that date.
“It makes it more difficult,” he said. “Depending on how many guys we carry on the 53 and where they are and how they’re proceeding as we go forward. Knock on wood, I’d like it to be our last injury, but I doubt it going to be our last injury. Those are things we’ll have to deal with when we get to the cut.”
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