Broncos Titans Football

Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (10) is helped after injury during the first half of an NFL football game between the Tennessee Titans and the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn.

NASHVILLE — It’s official. The Jerry Jeudy era is cursed.

Music City was Heartbreak City for the Broncos wide receiver Sunday. On the team’s first play from scrimmage, Jeudy fell to the turf with an ankle injury. He did not return.

“We're hoping we dodged a bullet there,” Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett said after the 17-10 loss to the Titans. 

Russell Wilson targeted Jeudy with a deep ball when Jeudy came up injured. His snake-bitten career took another painful turn as Jeudy grabbed at his left ankle area before he was taken inside on a golf cart.

"He was going to be wide open on that, too," Wilson said after.

What dreadful timing, too, as Jeudy finally had turned a corner as a pro.

He had seven and six receptions in back-to-back games, his most productive two-game stretch in two-plus seasons. The 2020 first-round pick was unable to build on the momentum.

The Broncos were already without wide receiver KJ Hamler. In Jeudy’s absence, Courtland Sutton totaled six receptions for 66 yards. Russell Wilson couldn’t pass in the HOV lane, even against Tennessee’s 30th-ranked pass defense. On passing down after passing down, the quarterback looked… and waited… and waited to spot an open target only to find the Titans collapsing the pocket. Denver had nine punts. Wilson hasn’t passed for 300 yards since Week 1.

There was interest for Jeudy at the trade deadline on Nov. 1. The Broncos elected to keep him.

Virgil replaces Jeudy

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After Jeudy's injury, undrafted rookie wide receiver Jalen Virgil stepped up. Virgil caught Denver's only touchdown pass of the day on a 66-yarder from Wilson in the second quarter. It was Virgil's first NFL reception and his only target on Sunday. 

Virgil could see the field a lot more moving forward with Jeudy and Hamler injured. He was inactive the first seven games of the season and didn't play a snap in London against the Jaguars. 

"It's a great start for me," Virgil said. 

Kendall Hinton also contributed in Jeudy's absence, totaling four receptions for 66 yards. 

Injuries piling up 

The injuries are piling up for the Broncos. On top of Jeudy, center Graham Glasgow (shoulder), right tackle Billy Turner (knee) and cornerback K'Waun Williams (knee) all left Sunday's game and did not return. 

"We'll have to see when we get back to Denver and evaluate them," Hackett said. 

The Broncos were also without safety Justin Simmons (knee), outside linebacker Baron Browning (hip), outside linebacker Randy Gregory (knee), center Lloyd Cushenberry (groin), tight end Andrew Beck (hamstring) and wide receiver KJ Hamler (hamstring). That's on top of losing left tackle Garett Bolles and wide receiver Tim Patrick, who both previously suffered season-ending injuries.

Still, Hackett is hopeful the Broncos can overcome those injuries. 

"If we can keep some guys healthy, get some guys back, hopefully get Jerry back, get KJ back — all these different guys," Hackett said, "I think in this league you can go on a run at any time." 

(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at paul.klee@gazette.com or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)

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