Look who’s back: Mason
Linebacker returns to bolster thin position
After losing outside linebacker Shane Ray to a wrist injury for the rest of training camp and likely the first two weeks of the regular season, the Broncos brought back Danny Mason on a one-year contract for depth and competition. To clear a roster spot for Mason, the team waived tight end Henry Krieger-coble.
Mason, 26, was signed to a futures contract with the Broncos in January 2015. He was released in early September that year but was resigned to the practice squad less than a week later. On Sept. 29, the Broncos let him go and Mason latched on with the Bears.
The 6-foot-3, 235-pound linebacker has not played in a regular-season game and will essentially be a stopgap in the wake of multiple injuries to the Broncos’ edge rushers. Ray’s wrist injury, which was surgically repaired Saturday, followed a hip injury to Shaquil Barrett suffered during organized team activities.
“Although this injury is unfortunate, it hasn’t broken my will to be great,” Ray tweeted Saturday. “I’ll just have to figure out how to win with one arm.”
Coach Vance Joseph said Ray is expected to miss six to eight weeks and likely will return around the time of the Broncos’ Week 2 home game against the Cowboys on Sept. 17. That also is when Barrett, who was placed on the nonfootball injury list, is expected to be back.
In Ray’s place, free-agent acquisition Kasim Edebali will move up as a starter on the edge opposite all-pro Von Miller, and Vontarrius Dora, Mason and undrafted rookies Ken Ekanem and Deon Hollins will serve as their backups.
“We signed Edebali because he is a relentless rusher,” Joseph said. “So far, he’s showed that. He’s a hard worker and he’s a hard body. Until Shane and Shaq are back, he’ll be fine. He was signed because he could rush the passer. So that’s what those guys do for a living. We feel good about him.”
With the Broncos’ linebacker corps thin throughout camp, Joseph said he likely will limit Miller’s preseason reps to keep him fresh for the regular season.
“We brought Mason in. That provides depth so we don’t burn Von out,” Joseph said. “That’s important now. We’re down to Von, with no Shane and no Shaq. Being smart with Von is a priority.”