Ray is out six to eight weeks; wrist injury requires surgery
Broncos outside linebacker Shane Ray suffered a torn ligament in his left wrist and is expected to be out six to eight weeks after he has surgery Saturday morning, coach Vance Joseph said.
Joseph said Ray suffered the injury Thursday, the Broncos’ first day of training camp, but played through it. Friday, Ray wore a brace on the injured wrist and participated in the full morning workout, when he fell on it again during a pass rush.
“Just taking on a block, his wrist got caught,” Joseph said. “He flipped away and tore a ligament. He worked it through yesterday, he worked through it today. We got X-rays, and he needs surgery. … Right now, he’ll be counting weeks. Hopefully he’s back.”
Joseph said the Broncos hope to have Ray back around the time of their Week 3 road game against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 24.
“It’s really weird. It’s the same area as (Devontae) Booker,” Joseph said of the running back who had surgery Friday to repair a fractured left wrist. “Booker had the bone that was fractured. (Ray) has the ligament torn that’s attached to the same bone that Booker fractured.
“So that’s where we are. It happens. I’m disappointed for the player more than us, because he’s worked so hard
and he’s making strides to have a great year. It happens. Injuries happen. Right now, I think we’re in great shape. They’re happening early, so we can get these guys back for the full season. Obviously, I’m disappointed for him.”
The timing certainly could be worse, but the injury is a tremendous blow because Ray was expected to have the full-time starting job vacated by DeMarcus Ware, who’s now retired. Ray filled in often for Ware last year as Ware nursed injuries to his back and forearm — Ray played more than twice as many snaps as Ware — and had a breakout season with 48 tackles, eight sacks, 21 quarterback hits, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
But Year 3 was expected to be Ray’s biggest yet. And he prepared with that mentality.
“For me, I took everything from Von (Miller) and DeMarcus that I possibly could, from eating habits, to physical training, to whatever I could cause I want to be that same kind of caliber of player,” Ray said after Friday’s morning workout. “Now, I think everybody’s seeing my development and seeing my growth. In my mind, I’m about to be one of the most dominant players there is on this football team and in the league. That’s how I feel I should be. I feel if I do that and play to the ability that I know and my coaches know I can play at, I can help our team get to the Super Bowl.”
The loss of Ray leaves the Broncos thin at outside linebacker, a position where they were deep four months ago. Shaquil Barrett was placed on the nonfootball injury list after hurting his hip while training on his own during organized team activities and isn’t expected to return until mid- to late September — around the time Ray is expected back.
“As a 34 front defense football team, you want to have rushers,” Joseph said. “You want to have at least three.”
Barrett’s absence created an opening for Kasim Edebali, a free-agent acquisition in March, to fill the void on the edge and spell Miller. But with Ray out now, Edebali will see even more playing time and more reps.
The 6-foot-2, 253-pound edge rusher played in the New Orleans Saints’ 4-3 alignment for three seasons before joining the Broncos. In 48 games (two starts), he had a total of 54 tackles and eight sacks and contributed on special teams.
Ray’s injury also creates an opportunity for Vontarrius Dora, who shined in the preseason last year, and undrafted rookies Ken Ekanem and Deon Hollins.
Joseph said Friday night that he will meet with general manager John Elway to weigh their options about a potential move because of Ray’s injury.
“We don’t play for a month and a half,” Joseph said. “We have time to figure it out.”