Broncos Middle Linebacker Nate Irving Sent to Injured Reserve


Nov 2, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; Denver Broncos middle linebacker Nate Irving (56) talks with a referee during the second quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The diagnosis for Denver Broncos linebacker Nate Irving went from bad to worse on Thursday as he was inactive this past week after suffering a knee injury against the New England Patriots in week nine. The Broncos diagnosed Irving’s injury as a sprained MCL, so he was assumed to be returning to the lineup at some point this season. Now, the Broncos have placed him on season-ending injured reserve.

Irving was having a great year in his contract year for the Broncos, racking up a career-high 46 tackles through just eight games. Irving was showing progress in the Super Bowl last season, one of the few bright spots for the Broncos in that wretched game. He carried that momentum into the offseason, earning the starting middle linebacker job after a lot of position shuffling throughout his career to this point. Finally at his natural middle linebacker spot, it was assumed Irving would be a run thumper for the Broncos and come off the field on third downs, but he was improving in coverage and was gaining trust from the coaches in third down packages.

In addition to improved coverage skills, Irving was a heck of a pass rusher in certain situations for Jack Del Rio. He had 18 QB hurries this season per Pro Football Focus and was also credited with a sack. His season ends with 18 “stops” or plays resulting in offensive failure. That number is tied for third on the team with Derek Wolfe.

Irving’s presence in the defense will be missed, especially since the Broncos are already without Danny Trevathan, who is on IR/Designation to Return later this season.

In a contract year, many have wondered — and rightfully so — whether or not this would be the end of the line for Irving as a member of the Denver Broncos. Even with so many in-house free agents, I think it’s safe to assume the Broncos will keep Irving at a pretty decent price, especially after this injury. He’s most valuable to them and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him enter next offseason as the team’s starting middle linebacker with the improvements we have seen. The Broncos will have to make this decision based on his medical progress, however, as they will have the closest look at that while Irving rehabs and gets himself right for next season.