The Denver Broncos began training camp as the favorites to win the 2013 Super Bowl. That could be slowly changing, though, as the team has been hit with several injuries in recent days.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is the latest Bronco to do gown with an injury. The cornerback had to be carted off the field on Wednesday because of what the Denver Post is reporting as a bad left ankle sprain.
The injury could keep Rodgers-Cromartie out for a few weeks, and put his chance to play in Week One in jeopardy. Denver is planning to rely heavily on the 27-year-old, who they signed for $5 million this offseason. His contract makes him the second-highest defensive player on the team, and Broncos executive vice president John Elway has called him the “best cover cornerback in the NFL.”
Head coach John Fox doesn’t seem too worried, though. He expects Rodgers-Cromartie to be ready to go against the Baltimore Ravens, as Denver opens up the season on Thursday, Sept. 5.
"He's done it before, so I'm not overly (concerned),” said Fox. "We are going to have even more injuries as we go through camp. It is part of getting ready to play a pretty combative game and gives other guys opportunities. We have plenty of numbers and it gives another guy the opportunity to get some reps in practice."
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Before Rodgers-Cromartie was sidelined, center Dan Koppen was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Manny Ramirez seemed to be in the best position to land the starting job, but now he has some competition. The Broncos have signed Ryan Lilja to bolster their offensive line.
Lilja was in the league for nine years, before retiring at the end of last year. Denver, however, has convinced the veteran to come back for at least one more season. He won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts, with whom he started 59 of 66 games. Lilja spent the past three years with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Before the team signed Lilja, Fox had said that Ramirez would be the team’s starter. He’s been handling the snaps for Peyton Manning in the offseason. He was expected to take over the injured J.D. Walton, who could be out with an ankle injury for the first two months of the season. Denver re-signed Koppen late in the offseason, but his time with the team was short-lived.
With Lilja on the team now, Ramirez may no longer be in the lead to start. The two should be in a competition over the next few months, but there’s a good chance Lilja is the favorite, since he came out of retirement to join the team.
Ramirez started 11 times for Denver in 2012, but all of those came at guard. Lilja was more than serviceable with the Chiefs a year ago. His health after undergoing multiple surgeries this year could be the biggest impediment to him being No.1 on the depth chart.