Injuries could be a defining part of the matchup.
Injuries will always be a part of football. Every player grows up learning the distinction between “hurt” and “injured,” and for good reason. Body parts are going to bend, break, and tear when submitted to the kind of violence doled out between the lines.
Pain defines every NFL season. Last year’s Broncos never had a healthy Von Miller as they burned through 10 cornerbacks. Both situations had a huge role in a defense that struggled to generate turnovers.
We already know some of the players who won’t suit up in the Broncos season opener in New York. The Giants’ cornerback Aaron Robinson is on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list and won’t suit up before week seven. Linebacker Elerson Smith and receiver John Ross were placed on Injured Reserve (IR) after the 53-man cutdown last week and won’t be available until week four at the earliest. Denver’s dealing with a similar situation because Duke Dawson, Essang Bassey, Mike Boone, and Michael Ojemudia got banged up during the preseason.
With five days to go until kickoff, there’s a number of Broncos and Giants working their back to the field. Both Noah Fant and Bradley Chubb are dealing with lower body ailments, but both returned to practice yesterday. When asked if they’d be able to play on Sunday, Vic Fangio said, “I think so.”
Asked after today’s practice whether outside linebacker Bradley Chubb and tight end Noah Fant will play Sunday, Broncos coach Vic Fangio said, “I think so. I think so.”
— Nick Kosmider (@NickKosmider) September 6, 2021
The big story in New York is Saquon Barkley’s return from the ACL tear that ruined his 2020 season. On Monday NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the second overall looked like he was going to be able to play. He also shared that tight end Evan Engram probably won’t. Even if he’s playing on a snap count, Barkley’s return could be a huge part of the game plan for Fangio and the Broncos because so many other players look like they’ll miss the game or find themselves limited in their return to action.
From @GMFB: #Giants RB Saquon Barkley (knee) is close to being fully cleared. Meanwhile, TE Evan Engram (calf) hasn’t been ruled out vs. the #Broncos, but he’s considered a long-shot for Sunday heading into the week. pic.twitter.com/Imr4d26uO2
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 6, 2021
As I write this, the following Giants players are listed as questionable:
- CB Adoree’ Jackson is dealing with a sprained ankle.
- WR Kenny Golladay is fighting his way back from a hamstring injury.
- WR Darius Slayton has an ankle issue.
- WR Kadarius Toney has an undisclosed issue.
- TE Kyle Rudolph hurt his foot.
Blake Martinez is also officially listed as questionable with an “illness.” He landed on the Covid-19 list at the beginning of August, but played in New York’s third preseason game. In addition, all the players above have returned to practice. This makes their status a complete unknown this far out. On Monday Vic Fangio said the Broncos are preparing as if every member of the Giants will be available.
“We just assume they’re all going to play until told otherwise, on more of a solid basis. You have to do it each and every week if somebody goes out in the first quarter. You have to be ready for whatever adjustments they make. We’re under the assumption all the guys will play.”
Captain Logan Ryan said it’s “very important” to get Adoree Jackson back this week. Makes everyone’s job easier. Expectation seems to be they will have Jackson vs. Broncos.
“It’s good to get him back this week so we can start running our stuff together,” Ryan said. #giants
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) September 6, 2021