Welcome to the 2022 NFL regular season. It’s official. The countdown to Week 1 is coming in hot as the first game of the season is next Thursday!
First order of business now that the Denver Broncos have finalized their initial 53-man roster and also signing 13 players to their practice squad, is to get you some updates on the injury front for Week 1.
With wide receiver Brandon Johnson going to injured reserve to start the season, the Broncos decided to keep undrafted rookie Jalen Virgil over Seth Williams and Kendall Hinton. They also retained Tyrie Cleveland who is, according to ST Coordinator Dwayne Stukes, the team’s special teams ace.
He suffered a throat injury in training camp and never did make it into a preseason game. The team did not cut him, though, so they clearly think he’ll be ready to play soon. When asked head coach Nathaniel Hackett confirmed they believe he’ll be ready to go against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1 on Monday Night Football.
“Yeah, that’s what we’re aiming for,” Hackett said of Cleveland’s return. “We’re going to, hopefully, get him out here today. So he’s going to be able to get some reps. We’re very excited for him to get back.”
Two other players who started training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list were offensive lineman Billy Turner and edge rusher Randy Gregory. Both of whom were free agent acquisitions by the Broncos back in March.
While both are back at practice, Hackett and his staff have been bringing them along slowly. Both are likely to be ready to go in Week 1 barring any setbacks.
“Yes, they will be out here [and] they will be practicing also,” Hackett said. “But we still want to be careful with both of those guys because of the severity of those things. We’ll keep continuing to work them in.”
Denver has great depth at both of those positions, so if they end up needing an extra week it won’t be the end of the world.
However, one area they don’t have great depth would be at the inside linebacker position. Jonas Griffith dislocated his elbow on the second play in the first preseason game and the rehab time on something like that in the NFL is about 4-6 weeks. That Week 1 game is just over four weeks from that injury.
Hackett noted that Griffith is getting his strength back there, but the key is to get him to 100% so he can use his arms the way a linebacker must in a game.
“We are going to start working him on the side,” Hackett said. “We just want to be sure he’s 100 percent. He’s getting his strength back. Obviously, with his position we want him to be able to strike so we’re going to work on all that stuff. Again, we are crossing our fingers.”
Of the four players fighting to come back for Week 1, I would put Griffith as the least likely to be there. The worst thing they could do is rush him back early and lose him for another lengthy period of time. Josey Jewel and Alex Singleton will have to hold down the fort if Griffith does end up needing another week to heal.
Overall, Denver seems to be in a good spot to start the season and what better way to do that than to whip Russell Wilson’s former team? Hopefully!
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