Broncos Rumors

Shane Ray Has High Ankle Sprain

  • Shane Ray‘s also in a contract campaign and looks to be auditioning for other teams after the Broncos didn’t pick up his fifth-year option following their first-round selection of Bradley Chubb. Ray’s now run into more injury trouble, suffering a high ankle sprain in Sunday’s loss to the Rams, per Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter). The likely free agent-to-be seems certain to miss Denver’s Thursday game in Arizona, if not more time.

Su’a Cravens To Return To Practice

The first player to be designated to return from injured reserve this season is one who hasn’t played since December 2016, but the Broncos are in dire need of any help they can get.

Su’a Cravens will return to practice this week after being stashed on IR prior to the season. He’s been cleared to return, per The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala (on Twitter), and Cravens tweets he’s on track to face the Texans in Week 9.

Having seen injury trouble (and a public dispute) lead to a controversial exit from Washington, Cravens stands in line to supply depth and coverage aid for the Broncos’ defense. Cravens said (via Jhabvala, on Twitter) he underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus, and he’s down more than 10 pounds after Broncos coaches requested him to return as a leaner version.

Cravens can return to practice this week, and the Broncos have two weeks to decide if they want to activate him or keep him on IR throughout the season. It obviously can’t be assumed Cravens will return in Week 9, given his history, but this is a positive development for him.

Denver’s lost four straight and entered the season having lost backup safety Jamal Carter to a season-nullifying injury. The Broncos traded a fifth-round pick for Cravens in hopes he could help out as a safety and sub-package linebacker.

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Broncos’ Ronald Leary Out For Season

The highest-paid interior lineman in Broncos history will not be available for the 2018 team’s final 10 games. The fears surrounding a possible Achilles’ tendon tear for Ronald Leary turned out to be justified.

Leary will miss the rest of the season, Vance Joseph confirmed Monday. The veteran guard went down midway through the Broncos’ 23-20 loss to the Rams on Sunday. Max Garcia and Connor McGovern had been rotating at right guard on Sunday; that duo will now comprise Denver’s starting guards.

Signed to a four-year deal worth $36MM, Leary will end a second straight season on IR. He missed the final five games of the 2017 season because of a back injury. Leary’s knees had caused him issues in the past, leading to his undrafted status and most recently requiring an arthroscopic procedure this offseason. But he returned and started Denver’s first six games and delivered quality work for a Broncos team that, despite its four-game skid, enjoyed consistent success on the ground.

The Broncos’ rushing attack figures to sustain a hit with Leary out, which will further diminish their chances of avoiding another lost season. Leary hasn’t played 16 games in a season since 2013.

Leary’s status for 2019 may now be tenuous because of another injury. He will turn 30 next year, and his contract calls for $9.375MM cap number. The Broncos would be tagged with only $1.75MM in dead money by shedding it. Garcia is a free agent after this season, while McGovern is under contract through 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Keenum To Remain Starter

  • Case Keenum had another rough game, prompting reporters to ask coach Vance Joseph after the game if Keenum would remain the starter for the Broncos. Joseph answered affirmatively, saying “Case is our quarterback”, according to Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic (Twitter link). Keenum left for one play to be evaluated for a concussion, and the home crowd gave backup Chad Kelly a standing ovation. With the Broncos a sinking ship and Joseph on the hot seat, it wouldn’t be surprising if Kelly gets a look at some point.

Broncos Fear G Ronald Leary Has Torn Achilles

More bad news for the Broncos. Right tackle Jared Veldheer has already missed the team’s last couple of games, and now it looks like the Denver could be without their best interior lineman for the remainder of the season.

The Broncos’ initial diagnosis of guard Ronald Leary is a torn Achilles, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link). If that’s the case, Leary will miss the rest of the season. It’s a huge blow to the Broncos’ offensive line, which is already light on depth.

The Broncos benched their other starting guard, Connor McGovern, ahead of the team’s loss today. McGovern and his replacement, Max Garcia, will presumably both start now moving forward. Denver has now lost four straight games after starting the season 2-0, and is in free-fall. Coach Vance Joseph has been on the hot seat seemingly since the beginning of the year, and this loss certainly won’t help him in his quest to keep his job.

Leary, 29, has two years left on the four-year $36MM deal he signed with the Broncos before the 2017 season. He was a heavily sought after free agent after spending his first four seasons with the Cowboys, where he was one of the best guards in the league.

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Broncos HC Vance Joseph Still On The Hot Seat

The Broncos nearly fired head coach Vance Joseph at the end of the 2017 season, and even though team president and CEO Joe Ellis publicly backed Joseph several days ago, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Joseph’s job security is tenuous at best.

Denver is in the midst of a three-game losing streak, and Rapoport writes that upper management will be closely monitoring Joseph’s performance over the next few weeks. The clear implication is that, if the team does not perform well during that time, Joseph could be axed before the season is over, and perhaps as soon as next month.

Joseph, with his job on the line, has made a series of changes in an effort to save himself. As Rapoport and Mike Klis of 9News.com write, Joseph will take on a more active role in defensive play-calling, although defensive coordinator Joe Woods will continue to be the primary play-caller for a unit that ranks No. 26 in the league in yards per game. Also, as was speculated yesterday, Max Garcia will start at right guard this afternoon in place of Connor McGovern, and both Klis and Rapoport note that practices were shorter this week while the number of team meetings were increased.

Joseph, whose club suffered an eight-game losing streak last year, will have a tall order against the 5-0 Rams today. The Broncos will get an eminently winnable game on a short week this Thursday, when they take on the Cardinals, but they will then head to Kansas City to take on the league’s only other defeated team, the Chiefs.

Given the Broncos’ upcoming opponents — Denver will also host the Texans before their bye week — it is difficult to say exactly what they need to do in order for Joseph to keep his job. But our readers believe that Joseph will be the next coach to get a pink slip, and today’s report only serves to support that notion.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Notes: Keenum, Draft, Joseph, OL

Case Keenum‘s gotten off to a rough start with the Broncos, going from being the No. 1 DVOA quarterback during a potential outlier 2017 season to sitting 24th in that metric and 31st in Total QBR through five games this season. However, this is unlikely to produce a Chad Kelly promotion in the near future, with Albert Breer of SI.com noting the sense he’s getting is any such switch won’t come until the team falls out of contention. Denver won its first two games but has lost its past three, and Vance Joseph is now 1-9 on the road after the Broncos dropped Week 3 and Week 5 games in Baltimore and New Jersey. The Broncos may have discussed Kelly, who has never attempted a regular-season pass but fared well in the preseason. But Breer adds Joseph and John Elway are tied to Keenum thanks to the $25MM in fully guaranteed money the journeyman passer’s making on his current deal. Keenum’s on pace to throw more than 600 passes, and the Broncos have oddly turned to the weaker component of their offense more so than committing to their strong ground attack that ranks third (137 yards per game).

Here’s the latest out of Denver:

  • It’s likely Elway will have to look for yet another post-Peyton Manning solution in 2019, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe writes. The Broncos have cycled through an unlikely successor (Trevor Siemian), a spectacular first-round misstep (Paxton Lynch), a retread (Brock Osweiler) and now Keenum. Elway and Broncos player personnel director Matt Russell are in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday for a Washington-Oregon game that features possible top 2019 QB prospect Justin Herbert, Mike Klis of 9News reports. Several teams are in attendance for this Pac-12 matchup, per Klis, who adds the Broncos figure to be looking at cornerbacks and tackles as early-round possibilities as well.
  • An interesting indictment of Pro Football Focus appears to be coming out of Denver this week. The acclaimed advanced-metrics site has Broncos right guard Connor McGovern rated as the No. 4 overall guard in football (and No. 1 in run-blocking), but OC Bill Musgrave said (via Klis) Max Garcia will take some of McGovern’s snaps this week against the Rams. McGovern struggled at times against Leonard Williams, and Garcia — a starter from 2016-17 and a player not graded nearly as well by PFF — may start this week, per Joseph, against the Rams’ menacing defensive front. This would be a curious move for a team that’s running the ball as well as it is.
  • Volin also doesn’t view Broncos president Joe Ellisstatement this week as a ringing Joseph endorsement, pointing to the team’s once-vaunted defense struggling against the run vs. Jets backs and entering Week 6 with just 11 sacks (19th) despite having used a No. 5 overall pick on Bradley Chubb. Elway hired Joseph, a career defensive-based coach, after one season of DC experience. The Broncos’ pre-Week 10 bye slate features a home game against the Rams, a Thursday road assignment in Arizona, a road matchup in Kansas City and a return home to face the Texans. With Joseph looking like a two-and-done coach at this point, this will be a pivotal stretch for the embattled leader.

Broncos Back Head Coach Vance Joseph

The Broncos have given Vance Joseph the dreaded vote of confidence. On Thursday, Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis backed the second-year head coach when asked about his job security. 

They know the deal,” Ellis said (Twitter link via Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic). “They experienced it last year. They know what needs to be done to fix it and move forward and try to improve and get better, and play some good football for the remaining eleven games. We’re all pulling for and supporting him and we’ll see where it goes.”

The Broncos slipped to 2-3 on the season when they lost 34-16 to the lowly Jets. Things won’t get any easier here, as the Broncos will face the 5-0 Rams on Sunday.

The stats show that the Broncos have improved on offense, but the defense has been woeful, ranking 26th in the league. The Broncos could easily place the blame on Joseph for that, especially since he is a former defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator.

If Joseph were to lose his job in October it would be an extremely quick hook for the 46-year-old. Joseph has spent 21 games as the Broncos’ head coach, but the team has gone 7-14 in that span.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Notes: Woods, Roby, Johnson

  • Although Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said he’d make changes following a loss to the Jets on Sunday, defensive coordinator Joe Woods will not be relieved of his play-calling duties, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link). Denver gave up 512 yards of offense against New York, including a whopping 334 on the ground. Joseph, a former defensive coordinator himself, could potentially take over play-calling, but that’s not a move that will happen this week. Joseph also indicated that cornerback Bradley Roby, who was burned by Jets receiver Robby Anderson in Week 5, is still a starter “for now.” Adam Jones, who’s played on roughly a third of the Broncos’ defensive snaps thus far, could see more snaps if Roby is benched.
  • Broncos linebacker Alexander Johnson pleaded guilty to simple possession and failure to exercise due care while driving but subsequently had a DUI charge against him dismissed, per a report from the Associated Press. Johnson’s original arrest occurred in the summer of 2017, more than a year before Denver gave him $50K in guaranteed money to sign as an undrafted free agent. A Tennessee product, Johnson hadn’t played football in more than four years before landing with the Broncos, in part due to a rape charge of which he was later acquitted. He’s been inactive for every game in 2018.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 10/10/18

We’ll keep track of today’s practice squad moves here:

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

Tennessee Titans