Jurrell Casey’s season-ending injury another blow for Broncos

With another loss on Sunday, the winless Broncos also suffered another major injury blow, as defensive end Jurrell Casey will miss the rest of the season after sustaining a torn biceps against the Buccaneers.

Coach Vic Fangio announced the injury Monday, adding another Pro Bowler to a list of sidelined Denver players that’s included five other starters over the past couple of weeks (quarterback Drew Lock, wideout Courtland Sutton, running back Phillip Lindsay, linebacker Von Miller and cornerback A.J. Bouye).

“It probably is (uncharted ground for me) in light of the amount of injuries that we’ve had so early in the season, but injuries are part of the NFL,” Fangio said. “We have to keep moving on, and the next guy up will have to go in and play good.”

The Broncos traded a seventh-round pick to Tennessee for Casey in the offseason in order to bring a veteran presence to the defensive front alongside Mike Purcell and Shelby Harris. Casey entered Sunday’s game with an elbow contusion on the same arm that he injured in Week 2 against Pittsburgh, but after being fitted for a brace early in the game, he returned to play 48 total snaps (71%).

That was about the same percentage of snaps Casey had in Week 1 against Tennessee (70%) and Week 2 against Pittsburgh (78%). Set to make $11.788 million this year, Casey had missed only five of a possible 147 regular-season and playoff games in his career, but he will now miss the final 12 of this season. He’ll finish 2020 with 14 tackles, three pass deflections and no sacks.

“I saw the play where it happened — you could kind of see him reach for his arm, and I believe that was the play, some point in the second half,” Fangio said. “Like with a lot of injuries, they don’t seem as bad (initially) as they end up being. Guys are able to finish — a la Bradley Chubb last year, when he finished the game after he tore his ACL. That’s what happened with (Casey).”

Casey’s absence will now put even more pressure on a Denver defensive line that was already struggling with depth issues. DeMarcus Walker (calf) and Dre’Mont Jones (knee) are on injured reserve, although both are expected to return at some point this year.

Behind Purcell and Harris, the Broncos were already looking for defensive line help leading into the Tampa Bay game. They elevated DeShawn Williams from the practice squad in addition to activating rookie McTelvin Agim for the first time this year.

Fangio said Williams “held his own” in his Broncos debut Sunday, especially considering Williams hadn’t played an NFL game since 2016 with Cincinnati.

“Obviously we need him to do more than he did, and hopefully since he’s going to get more reps now, he’ll be able to do that,” Fangio said.

With Casey out, the Broncos will also need Purcell to continue to be a run-stuffer in the middle of the field. Meanwhile, Harris is putting up one of the best seasons of any Broncos player so far and had two sacks of Tom Brady, plus a pass deflection, in Sunday’s loss.

“(Harris) is in the best condition he’s been, definitely in during the short time I’ve been here, and he admits it’s the (lowest weight) he’s been in the last couple years,” Fangio said. “His weight is down a little bit, which is allowing him to move better and utilize his strength and quickness more times and more often than he was able to in the past because he’s not as fatigued.”

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