Broncos fans held their collective breath when prized rookie left tackle Garett Bolles sat on the field at Mile High Stadium, holding his left ankle in obvious pain, frustration and — perhaps — a little bit of fear.

As he was carted off the field after colliding with Dallas defender Brian Price while blocking for running back Jamaal Charles, Bolles — the Broncos’ first-round draft pick this spring and starting left tackle, had tears streaming down his face as he waved to the crowd. The violent impact to his ankle had the Broncos afraid of an injury that might even finish his season.

Fortunately for the Broncos — and for quarterback Trevor Siemian in particular — Bolles suffered a deep bone bruise, but fortunately avoided more serious injury.

“It’s a lower leg bruise. We’re very lucky,” head coach Vance Joseph explained during Monday’s press conference at Dove Valley, noting that Bolles is considered “week-to-week”.

In the meantime, the Broncos will have to operate with some combination of the versatile Allen Barbre and holdover Donald Stephenson. The latter had a disastrous 2016 campaign with Denver, and given the monumental struggles of right tackle Menelik Watson thus far, the Broncos may be forced to change their play-calling on offense somewhat in order to protect Siemian against the Bills in Buffalo on Sunday.

It would be a surprise if Bolles returned for what may become a critical, early-season contest in Week 4 against the Raiders — and pass-rusher deluxe Khalil Mack — hopes that Bolles can return after the Week 5 bye seem realistic. That would have him back to guard Siemian’s blind-side once again when the New York Giants visit the Mile High City on October 15.