The Broncos have lost some key auxiliary performers in recent weeks. Outside linebackers Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett could both be sidelined past Week 1, and defensive line rotation cog Billy Winn is out for the season after tearing an ACL. Denver’s offense received some bad news as well. Third-round pick Carlos Henderson will undergo thumb surgery that will shelve him for at least the remainder of the preseason and possibly into the regular season, Mike Klis of 9News reports. Henderson suffered the injury during the Broncos’ August opener against the Bears.
The Louisiana Tech standout was vying to become Denver’s No. 3 wide receiver but was struggling during camp. The Broncos were using Henderson at kick returner in Chicago. Henderson’s injury will create openings for incumbent pass-catchers Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler and Jordan Taylor in the coming weeks while potentially limiting the rookie’s assimilation.
Here’s the latest out of Denver and other AFC West cities.
- It doesn’t look like Derek Wolfe will be undergoing surgery, but the sixth-year defensive end will likely be out for a few weeks. An ankle injury forced Wolfe to be carted off the practice field Saturday, but Wolfe informed ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson (Twitter link) he should be good to go for Week 1. That said, Denver’s left defensive end told Anderson his ankle is badly sprained and has a “slight tear.” Pending further examination, the Broncos do not believe this is a serious injury, Adam Schefter of ESPN tweets. Wolfe tweeted a picture of the afflicted ankle as well.
- New Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing received the backing of mentor Mike Tice when it came time for Jack Del Rio to choose between Downing and previous OC Bill Musgrave. Tice helped bring Del Rio and Musgrave — who worked together for two years in Jacksonville — back together in 2015. But the Oakland offensive line coach agreed with Del Rio that losing Downing to a team that wanted him as OC wouldn’t be a smart move, Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Tice oversaw Downing’s work when he was the Vikings’ head coach during the 2000s, eventually giving Downing his first coaching job in 2005. Musgrave’s contract was not renewed, and the longtime assistant is coaching the Broncos’ quarterbacks.
- Tafur adds the close relationship between Downing and Derek Carr helped influence the decision and previously dictated the Sunday arrangements last season. Downing coached Carr on the sidelines while Musgrave operated from the booth. Carr said, via Tafur, he will have more freedom to improvise under Downing than he did in two seasons under Musgrave. However, this season will be the 37-year-old Downing’s first time calling plays at any level since he helped coach a Minneapolis-area ninth-grade team in 2002, Tafur adds.
- Recently added offensive lineman Allen Barbre is competing with Max Garcia for the Broncos‘ starting left guard position, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post notes. Barbre has played both guard and tackle in his career but worked with the first unit in practice and could see time with the starters in Denver’s second preseason game, per Jhabvala. Garcia and Michael Schofield were the Broncos’ starters last season. Ronald Leary is the new right guard.
- Ray’s target date for a return from wrist surgery is Week 3, when the Broncos make their first road trip of the season in a venture to Buffalo, Jhabvala reports. Former Saints edge defender Kasim Edebali and Vontarrius Dora are the top candidates to start opposite Von Miller come Week 1, should Barrett not make it back by then.
- Chargers rookie Mike Williams is “running” and “doing well,” per Anthony Lynn, but remains without a firm timetable.