Just as the Denver Broncos are still riding the wave of its impressive 2-0 start to the 2021 season, news breaks that star outside linebacker Bradley Chubb will undergo an arthroscopic procedure on his ankle, September 22.
The procedure is needed because Chubb was injured in the September 19 win at the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2), a contest that was his season debut.
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There is currently no timetable for his return, per Denver 9News.com’s Mike Klis, as the exact timeline won’t be determined until after the procedure. Klis, however, noted that Chubb “is expected to go on short-term IR.” If that is to happen, Chubb wouldn’t be eligible to return until at least three weeks at the earliest.
The growing list of important Broncos might start to alarm Broncos Country, as that fan base went through the ringer in 2020, watching key players hobble off the field. As of September 21,, the list is a ‘who’s who’ of good players who won’t be available any time soon.
The 2021 season is only a couple weeks old, and it’s already starting to feel rather familiar — and not in a good way.
Risking it for the Jags?
The fact that Chubb did everything he could to be ready for the Jaguars was admirable. But now, Broncos fans have to wonder at what cost?
Head coach Vic Fangio essentially echoed the reverential sentiment when he detailed Chubb’s fight and perseverance to Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post.
“He tried to go with it,” Fangio said, following the Jaguars win. “He had medical clearance. He wanted to do it. And it acted up again.”
Chubb was on the field for 19 snaps before aggravating the right ankle. While on the turf in pain, Chubb was seen banging his fist into the ground, and then, while heading over to the trainer’s table, he slammed his helmet to the ground — likely realizing how serious this could be.
A Pro Bowler in 2020, Chubb also had a scope on other ankle, the left, back in May of 2021, to remove bone spurs. And if Broncos Country needs any more sobering news about a timetable, Aric DiLalla, the lead writer for the team’s official website, tweeted that when Chubb had his first ankle procedure, he was back on the practice field participating in team drills 11 weeks later. DiLalla said should this upcoming procedure mirror the previous, the Broncos may not get Chubb back, “at the very least, for the end of the season/playoffs.”
A haunting thought, considering the Broncos and Chubb risked it for the lowly Jaguars.
Chubb revealed to DenverBroncos.com that he tried to fight through some “stab-type pain” every time he turned the corner on a pass rush. He noted the injury bothered him during the first quarter of the Jaguars game, but he pushed through the discomfort, until ultimately it was unbearable.
“I really couldn’t go out there and do everything I wanted to do,” Chubb said. “That’s going to eat at me the most, knowing I couldn’t help my team the way I wanted to help my team. But I know these guys are going to do everything they can to make that playoff push, and I’m going to be right there with them.”
While the left ankle healed enough for Chubb to get back out there against Jacksonville, the right eventually betrayed him.
“I did everything I could to manage it and to try to come back and play,” Chubb said. “I took the New York week [off] … trying to calm it down just a little bit, and then this Jacksonville week, I tried to do everything to get back on the field. Unfortunately, all those things weren’t working in my favor. The thing [to do] is now just to go in, clean it up and be right back.”
There will be no sulking while he mends, Chubb noted, as he expects to be back better than ever.
“I’m going to push everything I can to get back to these games and hopefully it’s sooner rather than later,” he told the team’s website. “My mindset is just going to be attack it 100% every day.”
Sean Keeler of the Denver Post openly questioned the sanity of playing Chubb against an also-ran, and said had Chubb sat out all three games to start the 2021 season, it would’ve been logical, because the first real test for the Broncos isn’t until Week 4, October 3, when they host superstar quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens (1-1).
The reasoning, Keeler said, was that the Broncos “won’t need Chubb [September 26 against the New York Jets],” but will when the rugged part of Denver’s schedule commences. Following the Ravens game, the Broncos face another AFC North power in future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 5, arch rival Las Vegas Raiders in Week 6, and star quarterback Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns in Week 7.
Since the Broncos made Chubb the fifth-overall pick in the 2018 draft, there have been 50 games played. The ascending, yet oft-injured star, has been healthy for only 35 contests — a 70% availability clip.
The best ability is availability. And for Broncos Country, being available against the league’s upper echelon far outweighed playing against a league dreg like the Jaguars.
Follow Tony Williams on Twitter: @TBone8