The Broncos will be without one of their star defenders for a few weeks.
Linebacker DeMarcus Ware is expected to miss "2-4 weeks" with the same type of back injury that held him out for two weeks earlier this season, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Mentioned earlier that #Broncos OLB DeMarcus Ware will miss time with his back reaggravation. Now told it’s 2-4 weeks he’ll be out.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 9, 2015
The news comes on the same day that the team learned that cornerback Aqib Talib will be suspended for one game for eye-poking. Ware's injury is arguable bigger news.
Broncos fans shouldn't be worried about Talib. He'll be back. It's DeMarcus Ware who should cause concern. His back keeps flaring up.— Vic Lombardi (@VicLombardi) November 9, 2015
Ware has led the team with 6.5 sacks this season; Denver has led the NFL with 30.
Kubiak said Ware has "had a setback." ... "There's concern. I know he wasn't feeling very good after the game at all."— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) November 9, 2015
Ware has now missed games due to injury in each of the last three seasons.
Over the next four weeks, Denver will host Kansas City, travel to Chicago, host New England, and travel to San Diego. (See the team's full schedule here.)
Next man up
Thankfully, Denver has some of the best defensive depth in the NFL.
Shaquil Barrett has proved that he is more than capable of stepping up for Denver. He's notched 3.5 sacks and three forced fumbles mainly as a rotational rusher this season, and he started while Ware was sidelined earlier this season.
Fellow rusher Malik Jackson also had 3.5 sacks. Jackson is a defensive end, but his presence as a rusher can help fill the void left by Ware's absence.
There's also Lerentee McCray, who has a half sack this season. McCray should continue to see time as a rotational linebacker. Rookie Shane Ray, when healthy, could also be called upon.
Ray will be out another two weeks or so with an MCL sprain, but he could return before Ware. Ray recorded two sacks before his injury.