The Broncos have used Lloyd Cushenberry as their center throughout the 2020s, but the team will need to get by without the young blocker in the coming weeks.
Cushenberry is heading to IR, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The former third-round pick suffered a groin strain against the Jaguars in Week 8. Despite the Broncos having a bye in Week 9, they will make a move that prevents Cushenberry from returning over the next four games. The earliest he can play again will now be Week 14.
Denver is already without left tackle Garett Bolles, who suffered a broken leg last month, and has continued its decade-long run of right tackle instability. The team has also played stretches without right guard Quinn Meinerz. The player who replaced Meinerz during his early-season injury hiatus, Graham Glasgow, will fill in for Cushenberry, Mike Klis of 9News tweets.
Signed to a four-year, $44MM contract in 2020, Glasgow worked as Denver’s primary right guard during the first 1 1/2 seasons of that deal. But an injury ended the former Lion’s 2021 season midway through. Meinerz won the job during training camp. Glasgow, however, has center experience from his Detroit days. He spent all of 2018 working as the Lions’ starting center. The team, which aligned Glasgow at guard to start his NFL career in 2016, moved him back to that position in 2019.
An LSU alum who declared for the draft following the Tigers’ unbeaten 2019 season, Cushenberry has only missed one NFL game. He played 100% of the Broncos’ offensive snaps during the 32 games he started from 2020-21. Pro Football Focus has not been high on Cushenberry’s NFL work. After grading him as a bottom-half center during his first two seasons, the advanced metrics site slots him 29th through eight games.
The Broncos have five injury activations remaining. One of those may be reserved for Tom Compton, who was set to be part of the team’s right tackle competition before undergoing offseason surgery. The team designated Compton to return from the reserve/PUP list Oct. 26. Another slot will be reserved for Randy Gregory, who has been out since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery after a Week 4 injury. Cushenberry figures to be one of the team’s second-half injury activations. The Broncos’ options could be narrowed regarding IR-return moves during the season’s second half.
Safety Anthony Harris will replace Cushenberry on the Broncos’ 53-man roster, Rapoport adds. Signed just before the season, Harris was a regular starter with the Vikings and Eagles for the past three years. The Broncos’ top backup safety, Caden Sterns, is also on IR. Harris, 31, has played in two Broncos games but has yet to see any time on defense with his new team.