The 2020 NFL season has been an absolute disaster for the Denver Broncos and as they head into Week 4, things are looking more disappointing than ever. After losing cornerback A.J. Bouye, running back Phillip Lindsay, quarterback Drew Lock and wide receiver Courtland Sutton, the Broncos lost another key contributor in their Week 3 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Veteran defensive lineman Jurrell Casey will miss the remainder of the 2020 season after suffering a torn bicep. Casey’s injury adds to the growing list of Broncos that will miss significant time or the remainder of the season due to injury.
The team already lost their star defensive player Von Miller to an ankle injury the week before their season opener against the Tennessee Titans, and things went downhill from there. Among the other players injured include rookie linebacker Justin Strnad (wrist), defensive lineman Dre’mont Jones (knee), defensive end Demarcus Walker (calf), LB Mark Barron (hamstring), and cornerback Davontae Harris (hamstring). As the Broncos approach their Week 4 matchup with the 0-3 New York Jets, how will Casey’s injury affect the Broncos’ season moving forward?
How does Jurrell Casey’s injury change the Broncos defense?
After the Broncos suffered their Week 3 loss to Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, the team was already looking for a way to climb out of the rut they’ve found themselves in this season. Casey’s injury just pushed them further down the hole. Shelby Harris and Mike Purcell will continue to start along the Broncos defensive front, but reinforcements will be needed going forward without the presence of Casey, Jones, and Walker. Rookie McTelvin Agim will have to pick up a more prominent role, while DeShawn Williams, who played significant time against Tampa Bay, will also see more action.
Deyon Sizer, who was recently signed to the practice squad, will likely be called upon to fill in on the defensive front. Missing a player like Casey, who occupies a lot of attention in the middle, is only going to hurt the Broncos’ ability to put pressure on the passer. Denver has struggled with pressure this season, placing near the bottom of the league with only four sacks in the first three weeks, including two from Harris against Tampa Bay.
Could the Broncos look at a free agent to replace Casey?
With Sizer being a likely call-up candidate for the Broncos’ Week 4 matchup with the Jets, it’s unlikely that the team will bring in a free agent defensive lineman to play this week in the wake of Casey’s injury. However, as we advance this season, it would be wise to add some veteran depth along the defensive front. The Broncos could bring back some familiar faces, if necessary.
Defensive linemen Joel Heath and Jay-Tee Tiuli are two players who spent the offseason with the Broncos and are potential targets to be called upon to join the practice squad and eventually the active roster later in the season if the team may need them. However, with Jones expected to return by Week 7 and Walker scheduled to return by Week 6, there’s very little chance the team goes after a big-name free agent to replace Casey. PFN Insider Benjamin Allbright confirmed that the team would likely rely on the rookie Agim to get more playing time as the team awaits the return of Jones and Walker.
The Broncos should see some of their injured players returning soon
Losing Casey for the season has only added to the injury troubles for the Broncos. After his injury, the Broncos find themselves with nearly $58.5 million worth of players on injured reserve, which is by far the highest number in the league. After only three weeks, the Broncos are hurting in more ways than just one. However, with several players due to return soon, including Lock, Lindsay, Bouye, Jones, and Walker, things may turn around for Denver in the coming weeks.