The injury bug continues to plague the Broncos, and their inside linebackers in particular, as Justin Strnad is now expected to miss the entire 2020 campaign, following surgery on a broken wrist he suffered in practice.
If just joining us, #Broncos rookie ILB @jsgarbs broke bone in his wrist, with likely ligament damage. Had surgery Sunday night to prevent nerve damage, per #Denver7 sources. Lost for season. Promising player. Tough dude. He will be back. Looks like impact player in #NFL #Denver7
— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) August 24, 2020
The news comes as a massive blow to the Broncos inside linebacking unit, which was already shallow following Todd Davis‘ calf injury. Strnad was expected to step up and take some of those snaps to help replace Davis, but now the Broncos will be forced to find replacements for both.
Strnad was a highly-touted prospect coming out of Wake Forest, but a ruptured bicep suffered in the second half of the 2019 season, ended his year and saw him drop to the bottom of the fifth round, where Denver scooped up. Strnad thrived in coverage during his time with the Demon Deacons, and he was expected to be an upgrade in that facet of the game for the Broncos. The team will now have to wait an extra season to experience that much-needed potential upgrade.
As for what the Broncos do now to replace both Strnad and Davis — though Davis should be back by Week 1 or Week 2 — the weight now shifts to Josey Jewell, who has performed fine in relief effort for injured Broncos linebackers in past seasons. The injuries might have even saved Jewell’s roster spot, as he was in competition with Joe Jones to see who Denver’s 4th linebacker would be.
Jones could also see some playing time on defense, though he’s largely been a special teams contributor for most of his career. According to Pro Football Network’s Cody Roark, Broncos fans should also keep an eye on Justin Hollins to take more snaps at inside linebacker than was previously expected, as a result.