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The Broncos (5-4) have climbed back into the AFC West race, as they’re just a half-game out of first place, following the Las Vegas Raiders’ upset defeat at the New York Giants.
But if the Broncos are to catch the first-place Los Angeles Chargers (5-3), they’ll have to do so down a few more starters.
The Broncos didn’t come out of the Dallas game unscathed — which has been the norm in this injury-riddled 2021 season. Star cornerback Patrick Surtain II will miss multiple games due to a sprained knee. Supposedly, the team’s brass is taking that diagnosis as good news, considering the mysterious way the rookie dubbed ‘PS2‘ was unable to finish the contest.
It’s unclear of the timetable for Surtain II’s injury, as his final snap came with 6:54 remaining in the third quarter. That play was typical Surtain II, as he ran stride-for-stride with Cowboys receiver Cedrick Wilson, and raised his arms in celebration after Dallas’ failed fourth-down conversion.
The next time the Broncos’ defense took the field, however, with 4:43 left in the third quarter, it was veteran Kyle Fuller that was in Surtain II’s spot. Ironically, it was Fuller who was benched for Surtain earlier in the season, but it now looks as if he’s regained his starting outside cornerback position.
The Broncos hope Surtain II can return to the lineup later this season. He finished the game with three tackles and a pass defensed, bringing his total to eight passes batted away. Those eight pass breakups are tied for the team lead with Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons.
O-Line not Unscathed Either
Injuries have indeed taken a toll on the Broncos’ defense, as it has four defensive starters on injured reserve — not even including four other defensive starters who are not on IR, but who have also missed games this season. Surtain II will now be the fifth in that group.
The 2020 free-agent signee tweeted his fate, November 7.
Glasgow was injured on the final play of the first half, as he had his leg caught under humanity. Broncos’ center Lloyd Cushenberry III was knocked into the back of Glasgow’s legs by Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory. He was immediately fitted with an air cast and carted to the locker room.
Right tackle Bobby Massie (ankle) will also “miss a game or two,” according to head coach Vic Fangio. Massie could be a bigger deal than Glasgow, considering the 2021 free-agent signee was having a solid 2021 and played every offensive snap in the first eight games. He was injured when left tackle Calvin Anderson blocked Cowboys defensive end Dorance Armstrong to the ground. And like the Glasgow injury, the back of Massie’s left leg was crumpled into, causing the malady.
Next Men up
Cam Fleming took over for Massie, while Quinn Meinerz was inserted for Glasgow. And it appeared that the Broncos didn’t miss a beat, especially in the running game, as they totaled a season-high 190 yards.
Left guard Dalton Risner said while it’s always difficult to see a teammate go down with serious injury, he was proud and impressed to see the backups step up and perform well.
“I think we do a great job with having a ‘next man up’ mentality,” Risner said during his post-practice media availability, November 8. “You saw what Quinn Meinerz did [November 7]. Netane Muti has done the same thing. Calvin Anderson, I couldn’t even begin to talk about how good a game he played. How nice it was to play next to him. He filled some pretty big shoes in Garett Bolles‘s.”
The Broncos will get Muti back from a two-game COVID-19 positive test absence, November 9, which should bolster a thinning unit. If Muti is healthy and ready to go, it’ll be either him or the rookie Meinerz that are up next to replace Glasgow.
End of the Line?
By all accounts, Glasgow has been a solid player at his position — when he’s been available. The 29-year old signed a four-year, $44 million contract with the Broncos in March 2020, but will now end his second-consecutive season far too early. He’ll now have missed 13 of a possible 33 games for Denver.
Glasgow’s 2020 campaign was marred by both injuries (missed three games) and a positive coronavirus test (one). He then missed games in 2021 with an irregular heartbeat and a knee injury. The question now needs to be asked whether the veteran even returns to the Broncos in 2022, considering his hefty deal and being prone to injuries.
He has remaining salary cap hits of $12 million and $14 million in 2022-23. If the Broncos cut him after the season, they will absorb dead cap hits of $6 million in 2022 and $3 million in 2023.
Follow Tony Williams on Twitter: @TBone8