Mile High Monday: Broncos Fighting Battle on Injury Front


Aug 17, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman (21) rushes against the Seattle Seahawks during the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos got beaten handedly by a score of 40-10 in their preseason matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. But the only lasting impact from the second preseason game was found on the injury report.

OG Louis Vasquez, WR Wes Welker, CB Champ Bailey, and D-Lineman Derek Wolfe all suffered injuries of varying degree.

Broncos Country received good news on Sunday when it was reported that all four players have a good chance of being ready for the regular season opener on September 5th.

It certainly could have been a lot worse.

For those who got caught up in the final score of a meaningless game, they probably thought it was. But here’s why you shouldn’t get too excited about the outcome of this game:

  • It’s the preseason. By their very nature the outcomes are arbitrary. Check out Peyton Manning’s preseason and regular season records as quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts. It’s staggering.
  • Considering the Seahawks were the beneficiary of a 14-point swing on a goal-line fumble, which may not have actually been a fumble, and scored another 7 points on a special teams touchdown, the final score is not indicative of how the Broncos played. Fluke plays like that simply don’t happen very often, and if they do you almost certainly won’t see two in one game.
  • At the time of the Ronnie Hillman fumble Denver was set to bring the score to 14-17. Outside of an early 3-and-out, Manning and the first team offense was nearly unstoppable except for their two lost fumbles. The Broncos were the only team who stopped the Broncos on Saturday night.
  • The defense didn’t even put together a game plan for the Seattle offense. My guess is they will probably do so for their regular season opponents.

The only issue that could impact the team on September 5th is the injuries, so that’s where the fans should focus their concern.

The scariest injury during the game happened when Derek Wolfe took a direct hit to the neck area. Every Broncos fan and probably most NFL fans held their breath as he was tended to by the medical staff. Wolfe was seen moving his limbs, but he was taken off the field in an ambulance as a precautionary measure.

It was a relief when reports came out that Wolfe was allowed to fly back with the team and an even better feeling to hear that he should be in the lineup when the regular season starts. Tragedy averted.

Wes Welker scored the Broncos only touchdown and later left the field with a ‘mild’ sprained ankle. It was never speculated that Welker was in danger of being seriously injured, but it was reassuring to know he’ll be fine. It looks like the Broncos offense will be very impressive with him lining up as the slot receiver.

Louis Vasquez suffered a left knee injury against the Seahawks. That immediately concerned Broncos fans since Denver lost center Dan Koppen to a torn ACL a few weeks ago. All tests on Vasquez were negative however, and the Broncos averted another serious injury to the offensive line.

The most significant injury of the group belongs to Champ Bailey. Most people missed seeing Bailey limp off the field and were surprised to see him in a walking boot and on crutches after the game. It’s being reported that he’ll need up to 3 weeks to recover from a foot strain. That timeline brings him right up to the start of the regular season, so it will be worth keeping an eye on him as the preseason winds down. But that prognosis is good news considering losing him for an extended period of time would be a big blow to the defense.

Regardless of the severity of their injuries this group will probably get the rest of the preseason off to get healthy. This might mean they are a little rusty when things kick off for real, but that is a small price to pay to see the starting lineup intact against the Baltimore Ravens.

Frankly, I believe not much good can come from preseason football games. I would like to see the big names on the sideline for these matchups anyways. Obviously I would prefer that no one gets injured in the first place, but minor injuries will keep this group off the field until the real games begin and saves them from the potential of serious injuries.

All things considered, maybe Saturday night wasn’t so bad after all.

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