AUGUST 25: In a surprising yet encouraging update, head coach Nathaniel Hackett stated (via the team’s website) that the injury is not nearly as significant as originally thought. “Yeah, we’re definitely hoping for Jonas to be [ready for] Week 1, that’s kind of our aiming point ,” Hackett said. “We very much dodged a bullet on that one.” Griffith being ready in time to start the regular season (or at least miss less time than initially feared) would be a significant boost to the Broncos’ defense.
AUGUST 14: Broncos linebacker Jonas Griffith sustained a dislocated elbow during the team’s preseason victory over the Cowboys on Saturday, as Mike Klis of 9News.com tweets. Griffith is expected to miss the next four to six weeks, so his availability for the first several games of the regular season is in doubt.
The 25-year-old ‘backer entered the league as a UDFA with the 49ers and joined the Broncos via minor trade last August. He saw his first professional defensive snap in Week 14 of the 2021 season and performed quite well down the stretch, compiling 45 tackles — including four for loss and 5.5 run “stuffs” — in the final five games of the year.
He carried that momentum into spring work in 2022, taking first-team reps during OTAs and training camp. He and Josey Jewell have been viewed as the starting ILB tandem for months.
GM George Paton did not do much to address his team’s inside linebacker position this offseason, aside from re-signing Jewell and signing former Eagles LB Alex Singleton to a modest contract. He did not draft an ILB, and he did not retain players like Alexander Johnson, Kenny Young, and Micah Kiser (perhaps due to his confidence in Griffith).
Singleton, however, was Philadelphia’s leading tackler over the past two seasons, and he is the most likely Griffith replacement. While Singleton’s work in coverage is generally poor, he should be effective in Denver’s base packages, which is where Griffith is expected to see most of his action anyway.
Klis also names 2020 fifth-rounder Justin Strnad, who started fives games last year, as a candidate to see more snaps in Griffith’s absence, and he suggests that the Broncos could explore a reunion with Johnson (Twitter link). Singleton, whose contract includes a playtime incentive, may now have a better chance to cash in on that incentive.