We may be about five weeks from the regular season starting, if everything goes to plan, but we know the status of three key Broncos starters as of now.
Elijah Wilkinson, the guard/tackle hybrid who has started 12 games for the Broncos in the trenches the last two seasons, has been moved to the Physically Unable to Perform list.
The PUP list means Wilkinson, who was battling to start at either tackle position on the offensive line, cannot practice. He can attend meetings and workout, however. If he stays on the PUP list throughout the preseason, he will be placed on the regular season PUP list and remain there for the first six weeks of the season. At that point, the Broncos can activate him, place him on injured reserve or cut him.
Basically, Denver is holding out hope he will be able to return to the team midway through the year.
Wilkinson has been called upon to fill in at guard as well as tackle the last two seasons and he was supposed to push Garett Bolles in the left tackle’s contract year. Even if he was the sixth lineman going into the season, Wilkinson was valuable when healthy; this is a blow to Denver’s o-line depth.
Onto the good news on the injury front: Both Bradley Chubb and Bryce Callahan are “ready to go” per John Elway through Phil Milani of the team.
Elway on status of Chubb & Callahan:
🔹"It looks like Bradley is going to be ready to go. He's worked his tail off this offseason."
🔸"We expect Bryce to be ready to go also. He got sick & had the flu. And lost some weight. So he's still coming back from that. Not Covid-19"
— Phil Milani (@philmilani) July 29, 2020
Chubb was lost only four weeks into his second season with a partially torn ACL. But the team reported back in October he was a “machine” in rehab and Elway glowed about his work to get back to the field as well.
As a rookie, it looked like Elway found the heir apparent to Von Miller. Chubb racked up 12 sacks his first year and was an athletic freak on the outside. If he can return to that form this year, Denver’s pass rush will become one of the best in the NFL once again.
As for Callahan, who missed his entire first year with the team in 2019 due to a foot injury, he’s recovering from the flu.
Callahan was supposed to be Denver’s lock-down slot corner last year but never made it to the field. This year, he’s all the more important given Chris Harris Jr’s departure and a lack of depth at corner. The Broncos desperately need him on the field and healthy this year to have the kind of defense they need to push back into the playoffs.