Updated Aug. 7, 2010 @ 5:28 p.m. ET
Injuries to RBs Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter were only preliminary bumps in the road compared to the news of OLB Elvis Dumervil's torn pectoral muscle, which is a potentially devastating development for the Broncos. Moreno and Buckhalter are expected back well before Week One, but Dumervil's injury could keep him out for most, if not all, of the season.
Dumervil, who led the league in sacks last season with a team-record 17, was said to be seeking a second opinion after suffering the injury in a one-on-one pass-rush drill Aug. 4, but it doesn't look promising. The injury usually requires surgery to be repaired, and word is he'll be out until November, at the earliest. Denver rewarded the Pro Bowler with a six-year deal that included $43.156 million guaranteed about two weeks before he sustained the injury.
With Dumervil sidelined, Denver could open the season with Jarvis Moss and Robert Ayers, who have a combined two starts and 3½ sacks — all of the latter by Moss — in their careers, starting at outside 'backer. Moss was a healthy scratch from nine games last season.
The two former first-round picks haven't lived up to expectations, but Dumervil spoke highly of Ayers when asked about him during an interview with PFW five days before he was injured.
"(Ayers) works hard," Dumervil said. "He came to me after (last) season. He was like, 'I want to help you out on the other side (of the defense).' For a young guy to recognize that and humble himself, that says a lot. For him to understand, 'OK, I need to get better,' was a good sign. He had a great offseason program. ... He's bigger and faster. I think he's more mature. ... I look for him to have a great year."
Moss broke a bone in his hand during a workout just two days after Dumervil was injured. It was expected that Moss would miss two weeks of practice and then be allowed to practice and play wearing a protective cast.
Barring breakthroughs by Ayers and Moss, the Broncos' pass rush will likely struggle. There were only 12 sacks made by a linebacker other than Dumervil last season.
Head coach Josh McDaniels doesn't have many good options for replacing Dumervil, but he could also consider moving Mario Haggan, who played opposite Dumervil at outside 'backer last season, back to the position after shifting him to inside 'backer this offseason. McDaniels will have to decide whether to clear a roster spot by putting Dumervil on injured reserve, which would officially end his season.
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