The Broncos have climbed back into the AFC wild card race after consecutive wins, but their most recent victory saw key contributors go down.
Both Jeff Heuerman and Shaquil Barrett suffered injuries during the Broncos’ 24-17 win over the Steelers, and in the tight end’s case, that will mean an IR trip. Heuerman has broken ribs and a bruised lung and is out for the rest of the season, Mike Klis of 9News reports (on Twitter). Vance Joseph confirmed Heuerman, whom Klis notes broke three ribs, is done for the year.
Barrett, used as an off-the-bench pass rusher, will be out for a few weeks because of a hip flexor issue, Klis adds.
While the Broncos have a deep group of edge defenders, they are now quite thin at tight end. Jake Butt is already on IR. Matt LaCosse, who scored his first touchdown Sunday, will be the next man up. Klis adds (via Twitter) the Broncos are expected to promote Temarrick Hemingway from their practice squad.
A fourth-year tight end out of Ohio State, Heuerman’s delivered his best season since arriving in Denver as a third-round pick. Injuries and inconsistency previously ailed Heuerman, but he’d become a steady option for Case Keenum since the trade of Demaryius Thomas. Heuerman caught 18 passes over the past three games and has 281 receiving yards this season. This, though, will be a tough blow for his value. A free agent-to-be, Heuerman only has 49 career catches for 564 yards and four touchdowns in four seasons.
The Broncos hope Barrett, also a contract-year player, will miss only two games, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. He was one of this year’s top restricted free agents, and the Broncos applied as second-round tender to their 2014 UDFA find. A plus run defender in a high-end pass-rushing group, Barrett has three sacks this season. Denver still has 2015 first-round pick Shane Ray as a key second-string edge rusher, and UDFA Jeff Holland resides on its practice squad.
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