Broncos Football

Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick takes part in drills during training camp Monday before his injury.

The Broncos will be without one of their top offensive weapons this season after wide receiver Tim Patrick suffered a torn ACL Tuesday, The Gazette confirmed. 

Patrick was carted off the field after making a leaping catch in which he came down awkwardly and left him on the ground grabbing his knee. This is now the third straight season the Broncos will have lost a receiver to an ACL injury, with Courtland Sutton suffering one in Week 2 of 2020 and K.J. Hamler in Week 3 of 2021. 

"A guy like Tim, who is such an amazing leader, he's done everything we've asked — it breaks your heart," coach Nathaniel Hackett said. "On the flip side, it gives somebody else an opportunity to really grow and become a great player. That's what we're going to need."

After the injury, Patrick was surrounded by teammates as the trainers helped him onto the cart. Practice was stopped for several minutes as players consoled Patrick, who has become a leader during his five years in Denver, working his way up from the practice squad to being a top target the past two seasons.

Patrick's work ethic earned him a three-year, $34 million contract extension last season, which has been used as an example within the organization that hard work will be rewarded.

"Tim is such an impactful person for this team, a leader, a vet — he's the vet you want to mold your young guys after," Sutton said. "You see a guy who works his butt off all off-season. His preparation is second to none. He does everything he can to put himself in a position to go out and be successful. To see him go down with an injury, it's very unfortunate."

Last season, Patrick finished with 53 receptions, five of which were touchdowns, for 734 yards. Patrick was expected to again be one of the Broncos' leading receivers, as many consider him to have the best hands on the team — he has only recorded a handful of drops the past two seasons, including zero in 2020-21.

Finding someone to fill Patrick's void will be a tall task.

"The things he's done the past few years and the payday he earned last year, and rightfully so, it's tough," safety Kareem Jackson said. "We can't replace a guy like Tim."

Patrick probably will be replaced by committee with Sutton, Hamler and Jerry Jeudy becoming the Broncos' top weapons. But other guys undoubtedly will be asked to step up, like Tyrie Cleveland, Travis Fulgham, Seth Williams, Kendall Hinton and rookies Montrell Washington and Brandon Johnson, among others. Cleveland, Fulgham, Williams and Johnson might be the immediate answer, as they are close in stature to the 6-foot-4, 212-pound Patrick.

Still, as Jackson said, replacing Patrick is not something the Broncos will not easily be able to do.

"It's open. A lot of the guys are battling," Sutton said. "A lot of the guys are trying to make that push to get into that space, and it's still early into camp. A lot of guys have reps to go out and get. And if Tim does have to sit out some time, it's going to be an opportunity for all those guys to step up and make a name for themselves."

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Game analysis and insights from The Gazette sports staff including columns by Woody Paige and Paul Klee.

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