Ray is out six to eight weeks; wrist in­jury re­quires surgery

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Nicki Jhab­vala

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.”

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