On Monday evening, the news broke that Vance Walker, one of two starting defensive ends for the Denver Broncos, tore his ACL earlier in the day at practice and would miss the entire season. On Tuesday after practice, head coach Gary Kubiak sang the praises of Walker, but quickly transitioned to moving forward without him for the season.

“It’s tough, because Vance (Walker) was becoming a really good player,” Kubiak said. “He had a great offseason, great camp, there was an opportunity in his career for him to be a starter and unfortunately that happens. It’s part of the game.”

Putting the millions of dollars aside, the NFL is a very tough and cutthroat business to be apart of. On Monday, Walker was on pace to be a full-time starter for the first time since 2013 as a member of the Oakland Raiders. On Tuesday, the talk had already transitioned to who was going to set up in his absence.

“I’m not concerned about the depth on the (defensive) line now,” Kubiak said. “The thing always as a coach is you sit here and say, ‘We still have three weeks of training camp left,’ so that’s the hard part anywhere. But you are always massaging positions, situations to get yourself open a day, so it’s no different.”

While the Broncos only have two more days of training camp, they still have just under a month until their first game. If the rest of the defensive line can stay healthy, Kubiak thinks Walker’s absence won’t be felt too much because of the work of the defensive line coach, Bill Kollar.

“Bill will do a great job with the group,” Kubiak said. “Expecting a lot out of (Adam) Gotsis, (Darius) Kilgo, (Kyle) Peko’s come a long way. Opportunity for guys to step up — (Jared) Crick. That’s part of ball, and we got to make it work.”

It wasn’t a coincidence that Kubiak pointed out Crick, a fifth-year veteran, to step up in Walker’s absence. Many believed that when the Broncos signed Crick as a free agent from Houston this offseason he would be the starter along side Derek Wolfe. It wasn’t until Walker emerged in training camp that Crick became the backup.

“(Jared Crick’s) doing great,” Kubiak said. “He understands our defense, he understands Bill, so he’s fit right in very quickly. He’ll move up the ladder right now, but he’s had a good camp, and that’s why we brought him in.”

In the past two seasons as a member of the Texans, Crick started every game but one. Although Crick wasn’t listed as the starter when the official depth chart was released last week, that hasn’t changed the way he prepares.

“I know I’ve prepared the right way,” Crick said after practice on Tuesday. “If everybody prepares like a starter, the second they get in the game they’re going to be fine.”

Another reason the Broncos brought Crick in was his familiarity with the defense and his ability to have a quick and smooth transition with defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, Kollar and Kubiak. That’s also a major reason why Crick decided to join the Broncos.

“I was with Wade for two years in Houston,” Crick said. “It’s nothing new to me. I knew coming in it would be an easy adjustment, and it has, so I’m just very fortunate to be here.”

Despite Crick not being the starting defensive end from day one of training camp, he has the opportunity and potential to prove that he is worthy of this role, even if he had to wait for an injury to clear the way. If Crick, and the rest of the defensive line, can stay healthy Kubiak believes that Walker’s absence for the season will be just a bump in the road.