The Denver Broncos have looked totally unflappable in posting impressive wins over Baltimore and the Giants to start this season. A fairly significant bit of adversity has rolled their way, though.
The Broncos will place standout offensive tackle Ryan Clady on injured reserve, after Clady suffered a Lisfranc injury during the Broncos' victory over New York. They initially hoped to have Clady back after a couple weeks of rest, but the 27-year-old lineman instead will undergo season-ending surgery. Mike Klis of the Denver Post first reported the unfortunate news.
Denver made no bones about Clady's importance in the offense this summer, handing him a five-year, $52.5 million contract with $33 million guaranteed. Clady earned that dough with three Pro Bowl bids from 2009-12 and a first-team All-Pro nod last season. He was absolutely dominant in the passing game in Peyton Manning's first season with the Broncos -- Clady allowed just one sack all season, an incredible success rate given Manning's 583 passing attempts.
Broncos coach John Fox said Monday, perhaps in a moment of hoping against hope, that he could not confirm reports that Clady would miss significant time.
"I'm no fortune teller or into tea leaves or any of that good stuff," Fox said, according to the Denver Post. "I'm into the reporting nature of how we report the game. So right now it's exactly what we said -- it's a left foot sprain -- and when we know something [more] we'll let all the fortune tellers know."
Chris Clark stepped into Clady's spot on Manning's blindside for the final four snaps Sunday, after Clady hobbled off with his injury. In an interesting bit of timing, Clark actually just signed a two-year contract extension with the Broncos on Monday. He has six starts and 32 career appearances under his belt since joining Denver in 2010.
Multiple reports also indicated that the Broncos have signed the 29-year-old Winston Justice to take Clady's roster spot. Justice started 12 games for the Colts last season, all at right tackle, where he's spent the majority of his career. He likely will take Clark's spot as the Broncos' backup tackle, with Clark sliding into the starting lineup. But regardless of the depth chart setup, the Broncos will not be able to replace Clady. Manning was sacked only 21 times overall in 2012, less than 30 other starting quarterbacks. He owed most of that protection to Clady, a stalwart at left tackle.