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Broncos look to avoid 0-2 start while the injuries start to build up

It’s not just the injuries, but who is injured. Still, it’s “next man up” for the Broncos in Pittsburgh.

Good morning, Broncos Country!

Injuries are always a factor in the NFL.

They’re not something you can prepare for but should always expect.

In terms of the 2020 Denver Broncos, there was always a significant risk of injuries given the lack of “game shape” for the players. When you don’t even get on the field until August and don’t have preseason games, this was bound to be an issue.

But what we’ve seen to start this season is nuts.

  • Von Miller
  • Courtland Sutton
  • Justin Strnad
  • KJ Hamler
  • A.J. Bouye
  • Phillip Lindsay

Now we can throw left tackle Garett Bolles into the mix.

It’s not just the injuries, but who is injured. Those are major players for the Broncos.

The good news is Vic Fangio said Hamer should be good to go on Sunday at the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hamler’s presence on the field alone will make the offense better. As Joe Rowles noted on Broncos Country Tonight, what he does with motion should help Melvin Gordon and the other receivers.

Sutton is questionable, as is Bolles.

In the words of Mike Klis with 9News on Friday, Bolles is “better questionable than Courtland right now.”

It would be nice to have Sutton back on the field, but Bolles playing and being affective is more important — at least for Sunday’s game. As Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann joked in our MHR Slack, who even is the backup left tackle? Elijah Wilkinson would likely shift to the left and Demar Dotson would take the right tackle spot.

If Bolles is able to go with his elbow that limited him in practice this week, the hope is that it’s not an issue or, gasp, doesn’t get worse. The Pittsburgh front seven is really, really good. And do the Steelers do anything to try to test Bolles’ injured elbow? As Sunday’s game progresses, that’s all something to keep an eye on.

Obviously it would be nice to have Sutton back. He’s one of the best receivers in the NFL and him just being on the field would open things up for the likes of Hamler, Jerry Jeudy and Noah Fant. Even if he doesn’t do anything, that’s the kind of distraction Sutton is for opposing defenses.

On top of all of this, Denver is looking to avoid an 0-2 start to the season. As Troy Renck points out, since 2007, teams that start the season 0-2 only make the playoffs 11.2% of the time (12 of 107, according to Renck). As for the Broncos, since 1983 (John Elway’s rookie year), they’ve started a season 0-2 three times — 1994, 1999 and 2019. The franchise has never made the playoffs when it starts a season 0-2.

It’s incredibly difficult to win games on the road in the NFL — even in 2020. When you add injuries to key players that only makes the task a little more difficult. I have a feeling Drew Lock and his Denver teammates will answer the bell and make this a close game.

However Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh turns out, the Broncos have had their fill of injuries for 2020, thank you.

Bonus listen

Each Saturday, I do a segment on Denver radio station ESPN 1600 AM. On this week’s Broncos Blast, we preview the Steelers game and how Denver can leave Pittsburgh with a win.

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