The Broncos have placed cornerback Ronald Darby (hamstring) and wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (ankle) on the injured reserve, the team announced Tuesday. Both will miss at least three weeks, with the Broncos expecting Darby to return sooner than Jeudy, according to sources.
Jeudy was expected to go on the IR after rolling his ankle halfway through the third quarter Sunday. Darby, though, is a bit of a surprise, having played the entire game Sunday against the Giants. The new Broncos cornerback, who signed a three-year, $30 million deal this past offseason, will be out three weeks with rookie Pat Surtain II hoping to fill his void.
Surtain, who was drafted ninth overall by the Broncos, only played 16 snaps against the Giants and has mostly played at the nickel position. He did play one series at outside corner for the Broncos on Sunday, in which he gave up a touchdown.
“Well, the plan was we were going to give him a series in the first half, and that was the series," Fangio said Monday. "Then, the third quarter, we drove the ball a pretty good ways time-wise, so we went out there for the first series and then the next time we were out on the field I believe it was the fourth quarter, so we just decided to finish it that way because we might be playing more dime.”
The Broncos have plenty of experience losing their top corners to injury, losing four defensive backs last year throughout the season. That's they drafted Surtain and signed Darby and Kyle Fuller.
The hope all along has been for Surtain to be a starting outside cornerback in the Broncos' future. Now he has his chance.
“We just wanted him to play some," Fangio said. "He’s too good of a player to only play in the dime package, so we want to have him ready and we’re grooming him — not grooming him, but he deserves to play some so we’re going to play him some.”
For the next three weeks, "some" is going to turn into a lot.
The Broncos promoted cornerback Nate Hairston and wide receiver Kendall Hinton to the active roster, to help with the depth of losing Darby and Jeudy. They also signed cornerback Rojesterman Farris and wide receiver Rico Gafford to their practice squad. And finally, they protected RB Damarea Crockett, QB Brett Rypien, OL Austin Schlottmann and CB Saivion Smith to their practice squad.