The Denver Broncos made massive changes to their secondary in the offseason, but their intended group won't suit up at 100 percent when they face the Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, veteran cornerback Ronald Darby has been placed on injured reserve following a hamstring injury suffered during Sunday's win against the New York Giants.
In a corresponding move, the team elevated cornerback Nate Hairston from the practice squad. But the move affects rookie Patrick Surtain II the most as he will move into the starting lineup.
Surtain, the ninth overall pick in April's NFL Draft, was one of the best defensive backs in the nation while playing collegiately for Alabama.
Even after the Broncos signed Darby and Kyle Fuller to big contracts in free agency, the team still felt compelled to draft Surtain as they were excited about his potential.
However, rookies always go through struggles one way or another in the NFL. In his professional debut, Surtain played in just 16 defensive snaps (25%).
“He did good," coach Vic Fangio told reporters. "There weren’t a ton of plays, but I was pleased with his play overall.”
The team planned to play him more than his measly 16 snaps, but the flow of the game threw the plan off course.
“Well, the plan was we were going to give him a series in the first half, and that was the series," Fangio said. "Then, the third quarter, we drove the ball a pretty good ways timewise, so we went out there for the first series and then the next time we were out on the field I believe it was the fourth quarter, so we just decided to finish it that way because we might be playing more dime.”
The lack of plays in the first game is not a sign of how the team feels about Surtain. In fact, it's quite the opposite.
“We just wanted him to play some," Fangio said. "He’s too good of a player to only play in the dime package, so we want to have him ready and we’re grooming him—not grooming him, but he deserves to play some so we’re going to play him some.”
Surtain will get that well-deserved playing time in Jacksonville Sunday and the Jaguars' receivers will have a big test on their hands.