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Banged-up Denver Broncos face short work week

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Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph reacts after a play during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens on September 23, 2018 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by David Tulis/UPI

By Michael Kelly, The Sports Xchange

The Denver Broncos' season is going south quickly after a 23-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.

Denver (2-4) has dropped four in a row, sits three games behind Kansas City in the AFC West and desperately needs a win Thursday in Arizona.

To get that win, the Broncos will have to overcome some big injuries. Left guard Ronald Leary was lost for the season after tearing his Achilles tendon on Sunday, and a spate of other ailments will test Denver's depth.

Linebacker Shane Ray was sporting a walking boot on his left foot Monday and defensive back Adam Jones and tackle Jared Veldheer were in the trainer's room, uncertain if they can play on a short week.

Leary's injury shakes up Denver's offensive line. Max Garcia will move into Leary's starting spot and Sam Jones will be his backup. But losing Leary is a significant blow to the line.

"It's a huge loss for us from a leadership perspective," Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said Monday. "From a player perspective it's a huge loss. We have great depth in that room, obviously, with [guard Connor] McGovern and Max Garcia being the starters now, and Sam Jones dressing on game day. We'll see how that works out, but I feel good about that room. I do."

Leary's teammates know they have to move on without him.

"Ron Leary is a hell of a football player," tackle Garett Bolles said. "Having someone like that go down is a tough situation and puts us in a tight spot. Our mentality is 'next man up' and we have to perform no matter what. We got a game in three days, so him here or without him, we have to get ready."

Denver also needs to make some quick defensive adjustments. The Broncos allowed a 200-yard rusher for the second straight game after Todd Gurley II rushed for 208 yards and two touchdowns Sunday. The Broncos allowed the New York Jets to pile up 323 yards on the ground -- 219 by Isaiah Crowell -- the week before.

Denver boasts a strong linebacker corps and a solid defensive line, but teams have spread out formations to create more openings.

"Our run defense in our nickel package has not been good at all," Joseph said. "Versus the base stuff, it's been OK, but versus the three-wide, one-tight, one-back stuff, it's been bad the last two weeks. ... It's got to get better quickly."

The Broncos will face another strong runner in Arizona's David Johnson on Thursday.

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Sports - U.S. Daily News: Banged-up Denver Broncos face short work week
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