The Broncos put a lot of expectations on Tim Patrick for 2022, making his season-ending ACL injury Tuesday a game-changer for their scheme, the rest of camp, and the matchups ahead.
As to be expected, the entire team is feeling this blow. TE Albert Okwuegbunam discussed the hole that Patrick is going to leave behind, and how they’re going to have to pull together to try and patch it up.
“It falls on all of us. Obviously, it’s very unfortunate that it happened, but I know that we’re all going to support him,” Okwuegbunam said, adding that the entire offense is going to need to step up to make this season happen.
The Broncos did sign Darrius Shepherd, a wide receiver with ties to Nathaniel Hackett at the Green Bay Packers in 2019 and 2020, the team announced Thursday morning. Shepherd will be among the wideouts hoping to fill the void left by Patrick.
The good news is, the offense is aware of this task and, according to Hackett, already stepping up as Albert O suggested.
“Everybody is a true professional here,” Hackett praised his players. “We all know that stuff happens in this game. It’s about how you’re going to bounce back from that because that’s going to happen throughout the league, throughout the whole year, whether you win a game or lose a game.”
Asked if he had spoken to Patrick yesterday, the coach admitted that he hadn’t, because Patrick needed some time to process the MRI results and what this meant for his near future and healing process.
Hackett did get to see and hug him today, though, and the WR had a “great smile on his face.”
“That’s what you hope for from a pro. Just to see the support from this team just shows me what kind of team this is and how close all these guys are,” Hackett said. “That’s what you need to be able to win some football games.”
The coach also noted the team’s resolve to accomplish what they’ve been setting out for this season - they’re just going to have to revise their plans with the knowledge that Patrick won’t be there.
“Obviously, everybody was very upset, but at the same time, we still have that job to do,” Hackett explained, “We love him. We got to see him, and that’s what matters...you saw, when that did happen, how great it was just to see everybody there and supporting him.”