Nov 2, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; Denver Broncos middle linebacker Nate Irving (56) is carted off the field during the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. The New England Patriots won 43-21. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
It’s been a really tough first NFL contract for linebacker Nate Irving, who came in during the lockout-shortened offseason of 2011, played out of position for two seasons, and now has suffered what appears to be a season-ending injury against the New England Patriots.
Irving is no stranger to major adversity, having overcome a terrible car accident that nearly took his life to be a third-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos, so coming back from an injury like this, you feel like if anyone can do it and do it well, it’d be Irving.
Irving suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of the Broncos’ blowout loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday evening. He appeared to be in serious pain when on the ground, and even trying to get off the field, Irving couldn’t put an ounce of pressure on his injured leg. According to reports, he needed help getting dressed after the game he was in such severe pain.
The Broncos don’t have official word on Irving as of Monday morning, but they fear the injury is season-ending.
Irving has played in base and nickel sets for the Broncos this season, a contract year for the former North Carolina State star. He had 46 tackles and a sack this season, and his injury leaves the Broncos with just Von Miller among the original starting three linebackers they had intended on for this season with Danny Trevathan on IR with designation to return (week 16 expected return).
This injury comes at a position where the Broncos have a lot of players that can pick up the slack, but they don’t necessarily have proven depth. Lamin Barrow and Corey Nelson are two guys the Broncos drafted that could rotate in at the middle linebacker spot as well as current starter Brandon Marshall, who is replacing Trevathan.
Steven Johnson, a special teams player, could also fill in on occasion if needed, and if Irving has to go to injured reserve, expect Shaquil Barrett to be promoted from the practice squad.