Denver Broncos: Vance Walker’s injury, and the fallout
What will the Denver Broncos do now that starting defensive end Vance Walker has suffered a serious knee injury? Who will step up in his place?
Injuries are undoubtedly the worst part of an NFL training camp. Denver Broncos defensive end Vance Walker has fallen victim to what has been characterized as a ‘freak’ injury accident, and it will cost him the entire 2016 season.
It’s a really tough injury for the Denver Broncos’ defense, which was already without Malik Jackson after he departed in free agency. The departure of Jackson paved the way for Walker to step into a starter role, which he was expected to excel in.
The Broncos and head coach Gary Kubiak were hopeful after practice, but it seemed like everyone knew on the field what had happened.
The team has confirmed that Walker will miss the year.
Fellow defensive end and now likely starter opposite Derek Wolfe, Jared Crick said this of Walker’s injury after practice on Monday…
“That’s horrible what happened to Vance. Hopefully he’s going to be alright. My mindset has to stay the same, just come out and try to improve on my game every single day. Wherever guys are on the depth chart, they have to keep the same mindset to get through camp. Come week one, wherever guys are at, whatever their roles are, we’ll go from there.”
Nose tackle Sylvester Williams had this to say on the injury to Walker:
“It’s just a freak incident. I’ve been praying for him all practice and thinking about him. I’m going to get in there and check on him. I hope he’s alright. I hope that we can get him back. It’s going to be a tough loss for us. I know that he’s a tough guy and I know that he’ll fight through whatever it is. I’m praying for him and I’m excited to get in there and check on him.”
It is going to be a tough loss indeed. Walker was one of the Broncos’ best run stuffers last season, and was a key piece of the league’s best defense a year ago.
As the Broncos deal with the loss of a significant piece of their defense, they also know they have phenomenal depth behind him.
The aforementioned Jared Crick could turn out to be an even more valuable free agent signing than anyone had originally anticipated. Crick played extremely well with the reserves in the Broncos’ first pre-season game, absolutely abusing the Bears’ backup left guard.
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He’ll undoubtedly get first-team reps now along with Adam Gotsis, the Broncos’ second round pick who also played well in the team’s pre-season opener.
Gotsis and Crick are both very tough players with good quickness off the ball, and guys that can come in and contribute both against the run and the pass.
This could also mean a better shot at a roster spot for Billy Winn, a street free agent signed close to the beginning of training camp. Winn is just 27 years old and has started 21 games in this league, most recently for the Indianapolis Colts.
With Walker providing depth at end and over the nose when necessary, the Broncos could also give some additional reps to promising rookie Kyle Peko, who is competing for the backup nose tackle job.