ENGLEWOOD — Just two days into the Denver Broncos’ training camp, rookie head coach Vance Joseph has lost two key players to wrist injuries.
Linebacker Shane Ray will undergo surgery Saturday to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist a day after running back Devontae Booker underwent surgery to repair a hairline fracture in his left wrist that was misdiagnosed for a month as a sprain.
Ray, a first-round pick in 2015, will miss six to eight weeks. The Broncos are hoping to have him back by their third regular-season game, at Buffalo on Sept. 24.
Booker, who is expected to miss six weeks, learned he needed surgery after reporting for his camp physical Wednesday.
Just like Booker had, Ray figured his injury wasn’t a big deal at first.
He hurt his wrist Thursday but played through it. On Friday he wore a brace but he fell on it during one of the final drills of practice and was sent for X-rays.
“It’s really weird because it’s the same area as Booker,” Joseph said. “Booker had the bone that was fractured. (Ray) has the ligament torn that’s attached to the same bone that Booker fractured. … I’m disappointed again for the player more than us. He’s worked so hard also, and he’s making strides to have a great year.”
The Broncos were counting on Ray in a big way this year to take some focus off superstar Von Miller following the retirement of DeMarcus Ware and the offseason hip injury to Shaq Barrett .
Denver’s defense features a 3-4 scheme, so having a multitude of pass rushers is essential, and the Broncos now are precariously thin at the position.
Barrett is expected to be back in September along with Ray and Booker.
“We should get a nice Christmas bonus in the first two weeks of the season, a nice boost,” Joseph said. “Injuries happen, and in my opinion, when they happen, that’s what’s important.”
The injuries on defense have created an opportunity for free agent Kasim Edebali.
“We signed Edebali in the offseason from New Orleans for his rushing skills,” Joseph said. “He’s a guy that’s going to help us rush from the (strong side) position and stop the run that’s forced on the edge. He’s capable. We’re excited about him.”
Still, Joseph said he would confer with GM John Elway about maybe adding another pass rusher to the roster.