ENGLEWOOD, Colo—On Wednesday, three-time All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady injured his left knee in practice. After thorough examination by the Denver Broncos medical staff, it was confirmed that he had in fact torn the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The team announced today that Clady has officially been placed on season-ending injured reserve.
Yesterday, head coach Gary Kubiak sounded hopeful that the extent of the injury might only require a short-term placement on I.R.—with designation to return. But since yesterday afternoon, the team has clearly ascertained that Clady’s timeline for recovery will not warrant a short-term designation. He will miss the entire 2015 season.
Having such an impactful injury on the first day of organized team activities stings. But the Broncos have to push forward under the mantra of “next man up”. In Clady’s place, rookie second round pick Ty Sambrailo has been playing with the first unit, with Chris Clark at right tackle.
The team also signed former Bronco tackle Ryan Harris. The transaction was made official today. He will serve as a failsafe, should Sambrailo’s progression through training camp falter, or if further injury strikes. Most of Harris’ experience comes from the RT position but he’s an athletic big-man and could wear many hats if called upon.
The Broncos also have 2014 third round pick Michael Schofield waiting in the wings. He and Harris will serve as depth tackles, or swing tackles, and Schofield might even get a look at left guard. Since Clady’s injury, the Broncos starting O-line unit during OTAs has Sambrailo at left tackle, Ben Garland and Shelley Smith competing at left guard, Gino Gradkowski and Matt Paradis grinding at center, Louis Vasquez at right guard and Chris Clark at right tackle.
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Adversity has struck this unit early, and although the faces are very different this time around, when Clady went down in 2013, the Broncos O-line rose to the occasion, paving the way for the team’s record-breaking offensive output and eventual Super Bowl berth.
It doesn’t help that this time around, the Broncos are particularly young and inexperienced on the O-line, by and large. But perhaps offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and O-line coach Clancy Barone can find a way to turn that to the Broncos advantage.
“We’re going to do what we do best," Dennison said yesterday. "We’re the 2015 Broncos. We’re going to do what we do best—whoever the 11 are out there. I don’t know if it will change it. I don’t know if it will or won’t. I don’t have a crystal ball. We’ll go out there. Certainly we have a lot of talent; we’ll win some games and do our part.”