A reeling Broncos team will have some much-needed receiver help in Week 8. Vic Fangio said Jerry Jeudy will be activated ahead of Denver’s game against Washington.
The Broncos medically cleared Jeudy ahead of their Thursday road trip trip but held him out of their 17-14 loss against the Browns, giving the second-year wide receiver another 10 days to finalize his recovery from a high ankle sprain. Jeudy went down in Week 1 but was on his way to a 100-yard day in the Broncos’ win over the Giants. The Broncos designated the Alabama product to return from IR last weekend.
Losers of four straight, the Broncos have been without Jeudy and fellow slot weapon K.J. Hamler since Week 3. The team has struggled offensively without its young receivers, averaging just 16 points per game during its four-game losing streak. Hamler is out for the season after tearing an ACL.
Denver chose Jeudy 15th overall last year but has yet to see he and Courtland Sutton complete a game together. Sutton did not play in Week 1 of last season and went down for the year in Week 2. The fourth-year boundary weapon returned to start this season, but the Broncos lost Jeudy during that game. Jeudy led the Broncos in receiving last season, totaling 856 yards as a rookie.
Broncos linebacker Alexander Johnson will miss the rest of the year with a torn pectoral muscle, per a club announcement. He’ll be placed on injured reserve today, opening up a spot on the 53-man roster.
The Broncos are already without fellow starting ‘backer Josey Jewell, who also suffered a torn pec. It’s a bad blow to Vic Fangio‘s front seven and especially poor timing for Johnson. The middle linebacker is scheduled for unrestricted free agency in the spring, after he wraps his one-year, $3.384MM tender.
Johnson, 30 in December, joined the Broncos in 2018 and found his way to the starting lineup in October of 2019. He immediately improved the team’s run defense and kept his first-string gig throughout 2020. Johnson made 124 tackles and forced two fumbles last season while Pro Football Focus rated the 255-pound defender as a top-25 off-ball linebacker. In his six games this year, Johnson recorded 32 stops, two sacks, and three passes defensed.
Meanwhile, the Broncos also say that wide receiver Jerry Jeudy is unlikely to play on Thursday night when they face the Browns.
Jerry Jeudy‘s return from a high ankle sprain will not happen in Week 6, but the second-year wide receiver is on the verge of coming back. The Broncos are designating him for return from IR, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. The team now has 21 days to activate Jeudy.
While Jeudy’s recovery process will now involve practice work, the Broncos plan to promote recently signed wide receiver John Brown to their active roster, Klis adds (on Twitter). A free agent since requesting his release from the Raiders in late August, Brown caught on with Denver’s practice squad earlier this week.
Brown would be in line to begin his Broncos career against the Raiders, though Klis adds it is not a certainty the Broncos dress the veteran Sunday. With the eighth-year veteran being called up from the taxi squad, Denver will have that option. The Broncos are also elevating wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland from their P-squad.
Down since his Week 1 injury, Jeudy has a chance to return Thursday against the Browns but would have a better chance of being activated ahead of Denver’s Week 8 game against Washington. The Broncos have been down Jeudy and 2020 second-round pick K.J. Hamler since Week 3, when Hamler suffered a season-ending ACL tear. They have lost each of their games without both of them in the lineup, though Denver did win in Week 2 and Week 3 — over the Jaguars and Jets — when Jeudy sat and Hamler played.
The Broncos’ offense has struggled for much of the past two games, and while Jeudy would represent a likely boost, Brown will step in for the time being. A two-time 1,000-yard receiver, Brown aided Josh Allen‘s development by serving as Buffalo’s No. 1 wideout in 2019. After a productive ’19 season, however, Brown battled injuries in 2020. The Bills released Brown this offseason, signing ex-Bronco Emmanuel Sanders to replace him. Brown, 31, did not make a great impression as a Raider and was cut after the preseason. The speed merchant will have a chance to reignite his career soon.
The free agent acquisition will miss at least three games and possibly more. Denver signed Darby to a three-year deal this offseason, one in which the franchise also added veteran Kyle Fuller on a one-year contract and used its No. 9 overall pick on Patrick Surtain II. The latter will be counted on as a potential every-down player beginning in Week 2.
This marks the latest injury setback for Darby, who carries a checkered health history. The veteran starter played 16 games last season, setting him up for a better free agency bid, but missed 20 games over the previous three years. Of Denver’s top four corners, only Darby and Surtain are signed beyond 2021.
Barring other injuries to its cornerback corps, the Broncos have the depth to withstand this setback and continue their momentum. The team returns Bryce Callahan from last season as well. However, Callahan has an extensive injury history — one that includes a full-season absence in 2019 and an IR stay to close the 2020 slate. He will team with Fuller and Surtain as the Broncos’ top three corners beginning Sunday, however. Second-year corner Michael Ojemudia is also on IR with a hamstring injury.
September 13th, 2021 at 2:43pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
The Broncos will be without 2020 first-round pick Jerry Jeudy for a bit, but it could’ve been worse. Jeudy suffered a high ankle sprain during the team’s win over the Giants on Sunday, head coach Vic Fangio confirmed Monday.
Fangio said that thankfully the plan for now is just rest and recovery rather than surgery. The injury is expected to sideline the former Alabama star for 4-6 weeks, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). That’s a tough blow, but still better than the alternative of an ankle break which would’ve brought an end to his season.
When Jeudy went down he was visibly distraught and had to be carted off, so 4-6 weeks may end up proving to be somewhat of a best-case scenario all things considered. Denver looked great while pummeling the Giants 27-7, but they’ll now be without one of their top weapons moving forward.
Courtland Sutton (coming off an ACL tear), Tim Patrick, and KJ Hamler are all likely to see their workloads increase in his absence. Jeudy looked good before suffering the injury, catching six passes for 72 yards. As a rookie last year, he had 52 catches for 856 yards and three touchdowns.
The Raiders will kick off their regular season on Monday Night Football against the Ravens tomorrow. In the meantime, let’s round up a few recent items on the Silver-and-Black:
The 2020 wide receiver draft class was absolutely loaded, and plenty of pundits believed Jerry Jeudy was the cream of the crop. Although no WR had been selected by the time the Raiders were on the board with the No. 12 overall pick, Las Vegas ultimately chose Henry Ruggs over Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb. As Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes, there were Jeudy supporters in the Raiders’ war room, but head coach Jon Gruden wanted his own version of Tyreek Hill, and he saw Ruggs as a player who fit that bill.
The Raiders selected DE Arden Key, who was once believed to be a first-round talent, in the third round of the 2018 draft. But the LSU product posted just three sacks in three seasons, and Vegas deemed him surplus to requirements in April. He was quickly scooped up by the 49ers, and he did not mince words when asked about his time with the Raiders. “To be honest, I wanted to get out of there,” Key said (via Jacob Hutchinson of KNBR.com). “I been wanting to get out of there. I wasn’t surprised. I was more happy than surprised. I wish it happened a little earlier but, hey, I got what I wanted and I’m good.” Key went on to say that the Raiders’ defensive scheme was a poor fit for him, and while he did not explicitly say so, it seems he is happy to be away from Gruden.
Count Lamarcus Joyner as another ex-Raider who is happy to be away from the club. The Raiders deployed Joyner — who primarily played safety with the Rams before signing a big-money free agent contract with Vegas — as a nickelback over the past several seasons, and he struggled in that role. The Raiders released him in March, and he signed with the Jets 10 days later. Gang Green will deploy him as single-high safety, and he is pleased with how things turned out. “I’m pretty sure the whole world knows that (I’m happy to be away from the Raiders),” he said. “I made that known. I’m so happy it’s over and I’m here with coach [Robert] Saleh right now” (via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com). Joyner was clear that he didn’t have an issue with Gruden personally.
The Broncos and Jerry Jeudy have a deal. The first-round wide receiver will ink his four-year, $15.192MM deal soon, as NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. The deal includes an $8.61MM signing bonus, of which 71% will be paid upfront.
Most of this year’s draft pick signings have come later than usual, in one giant burst. There was little doubt that Jeudy and the rest of this year’s 250+ player crop would eventually sign, but teams have been nervous about the current financial climate and the prospect of laying out millions of dollars early on. The first-round picks, in particular, have dragged, due to their larger signing bonuses.
Teammate Henry Ruggs came off the board before Jeudy, going No. 12 to the Raiders. At No. 15, the Broncos got the Alabama star that many evaluators actually preferred. Jeudy doesn’t have Ruggs’ speed, but he has the size to outstretch cornerbacks on the outside and tremendous route-running ability. The 6’1″ receiver averaged 72 catches for 1,239 yards and 12 touchdowns over his final two years on campus, and he could also see some time in the slot. In Denver, he’ll team with Courtland Sutton– mostly on the opposite side, while second-round pick KJ Hamler handles the slot.
This year’s wide receiver draft class was widely regarded as one of the deepest in recent memory. It was so deep, in fact, that teams felt they could secure immediate-impact players on Day 2 and even Day 3 of the draft. Still, a few players separated themselves from their peers and became first-round selections, the cream of a bountiful crop.
The consensus top three talents were Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb and Alabama standouts Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy. It would not have been surprising to see any of those three players taken in the top-10, and ultimately Ruggs came off the board first, going to the Raiders with the No. 12 overall selection.
The Broncos were quite content with that, as they snagged Jeudy – whom they considered trading up for – with the No. 15 pick. Then, although the Cowboys perhaps had more pressing needs, they could not turn down Lamb when he surprisingly fell into their laps at No. 17.
TCU’s Jalen Reagor was the next domino to fall, heading to the Eagles with the No. 21 selection. Reagor was something of a late riser in the process, as he had been mocked as a second- to third-round choice but began garnering attention as a potential first-rounder as we got closer to draft day. Philadelphia GM Howie Roseman obviously saw something he liked, and he pounced.
But LSU’s Justin Jefferson, generally considered the fourth-best wideout in the class, didn’t have to wait too much longer to hear his name called. The Vikings took him one pick after Reagor.
All five of those players stand a good chance of becoming difference-makers for their respective clubs, as is the case with any first-round pick. But we would like to know from you which of them you think will have the biggest impact as a rookie.
With Ruggs, the Raiders added a speed merchant whose college production did not match that of Jeudy — his teammate of three years with the Crimson Tide — but who fits the Las Vegas offense nicely. The Raiders added another collegiate wideout, Bryan Edwards, in the third round, and they also took a flier on veteran Nelson Agholor. Still, it appears as if Ruggs has a good chance to start opposite Tyrell Williams, with Hunter Renfrow working the slot. Ruggs is electric with the ball in his hands, and he is not a one-dimensional deep threat; he is a solid route-runner who should only get better with coaching. His recent off-field injury seems to be a non-issue, and he will be a boost to a passing offense that performed better than one might think in 2019.
The Broncos, meanwhile, are building a strong young nucleus of skill position talent, and Jeudy will team with Courtland Sutton to form one of the most promising 1-2 punches in the game. He is a gifted route-runner whose excellent production against SEC defenses jumps off the page — he averaged 72 catches for 1,239 yards and 12 TDs over his final two years in school – and he has the versatility to line up outside or in the slot. Fellow rookie KJ Hamler, whom Denver nabbed in the second round, may get most of the slot reps, but Jeudy will be a threat no matter where he plays.
Though Lamb will have to compete with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup for targets, the Cowboys are perfectly capable of moving the ball through the air and will have plenty of opportunities to go around. Lamb should work primarily in the slot, which will mask some of the deficiencies he has as a route-runner and against press coverage. He has terrific hands and tracking ability, and though he may lack top-line speed, he is plenty quick enough to make things happen, and his overall athleticism is off the charts. He is also a strong and willing blocker, which Ezekiel Elliott will surely appreciate.
Due to injuries and under-performance, the Eagles’ WR group provided very little production last year. Veteran DeSean Jackson played just three games in 2019, Alshon Jeffery may start the season on the PUP list, and 2019 second-rounder JJ Arcega-Whiteside failed to live up to expectations. Philadelphia tried to trade up for Lamb but was happy to pick up Reagor, whose blazing speed could pair well with Jackson. Though it took a while for his stock to rise, that may have been because the TCU offense didn’t give him the chance to show off his route-running skills, so the more scouts were able to evaluate his tape, the more impressed they became. He struggled with drops from time to time, but with his abilities as a deep target and a YAC monster, he has the potential to be a dynamic pro. On the other hand, there are rumblings that Reagor will be asked to focus on just one position in 2020 and will be the understudy to D-Jax, so he may not get as much immediate PT as we might have expected.
Like the Eagles, the Vikings sorely needed to upgrade their WR corps, and Jefferson steps into a great situation, as Minnesota traded Stefon Diggs earlier in the offseason and did little to replace him. So Jefferson should start opposite Adam Thielen, whose mounting injury history could open up even more opportunities. Like most of the LSU offense, Jefferson was tremendous in 2019, securing 111 catches for 1,540 yards and 18 TDs. He offers an intriguing blend of size and speed, and though he may struggle to create separation in the pros, he has good hands and runs good routes. The Vikings like to run the ball, but Kirk Cousins is a capable QB and Jefferson should see plenty of passes coming his way.
So let’s hear your thoughts. Tell us which of these five players will have the most impact on his team in 2020, and explain your reasoning in the comments.
Teams are well aware of Jerry Jeudy‘s past knee troubles, but they aren’t worried about it, according to Dane Brugler of The Athletic (on Twitter). As Brugler notes, the wide receiver is two seasons removed from his scope in April of 2018 and they’ve done ample homework on his lateral meniscus. With that in mind, Brugler hears that the Alabama star is still expected to land somewhere in the Top 20.
Two teams at the scouting combine expressed concern over Jeudy’s left knee, but his doctor has issued a letter to all 32 clubs to quell such talk. “Jeudy has not required any treatment” on the knee since his surgery, says the doctor, who expects him to progress “without limitations” from here on out. Some teams may still have Jeudy’s knee flagged to a degree, but Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) has yet to speak with a club that believes it will seriously impact his career.
Jeudy is right up there with CeeDee Lamb in a draft that is positively loaded with exceptional WR talent. Both players are mortal locks to come off the board early – it’s just a matter of when the run will start. Some say the WRs will start flying at No. 11, when the Jets have their turn at the virtual podium. Or, the run could start earlier if teams like the Jets, Raiders, or Broncos move up to get their man.
We heard last week that the Broncos may be trying to trade up from their No. 15 overall pick in Thursday’s draft, and those reports suggested that Denver would be targeting an offensive tackle with such a move. Although LT Garett Bolles actually performed surprisingly well in 2019 according to advanced metrics, he has not come close to living up to his status as a former first-round pick, and RT Ja’Wuan James saw his first season with the Broncos almost entirely wiped out due to injury.
So a tackle would make plenty of sense for Denver, but if the team does engineer a trade-up, it would be for a wide receiver, not a lineman, per Woody Paige of The Gazette (Twitter link). Specifically, the longtime Denver-based reporter says the club is targeting Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy.
Jeudy is seen as one of the top receivers in a draft that is historically deep at the position, and the run on wideouts is expected to start no later than the No. 11 overall selection, when the Jets are on the clock. As such, if the Broncos want Jeudy, they may need to get up to No. 8 (Cardinals) or No. 10 (Browns). Both Arizona and Cleveland profile as trade-down candidates, so Denver could have a trade partner should they choose to be aggressive.
Denver’s current WR depth chart looks pretty thin beyond budding star Courtland Sutton, and while it may make more sense to wait until the second or third round to nab another pass catcher — after all, a second-rounder in this year’s draft may be a first-rounder in any other year — there’s no denying that a Sutton-Jeudy combo is sorely tempting.
Jeudy is lauded for his route-running, and he averaged for 1,239 yards and 12 TDs over his final two seasons with the Crimson Tide. With him, Sutton, and second-year TE Noah Fant, QB Drew Lock would have a young and talented arsenal at his disposal.
One way or another, Paige does not expect the Broncos to stay put at No. 15. If they cannot trade up, or if they decide the price to do so is too high, Paige expects them to explore trade-down scenarios to further bolster their draft capital. As of this writing, they have 10 picks in the draft.