Josey Jewell’s calf injury is already testing the depth of the Broncos’ inside linebacker corps.
Jewell, who is responsible for relaying defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero’s play calll to the rest of the defense, missed practice for a second straight day Saturday because of a calf injury, and is listed as doubtful to play in the season opener on Monday night in Seattle. Jewell signed a new two-year contract this offseason after missing the final 15 games of ’21 with a torn pectoral.
Coach Nathaniel Hackett said Alex Singleton would most likely start in Jewell’s place, but the Broncos haven’t decided who would wear the “green dot” to relay Evero’s play call. Early in camp, Jonas Griffith, the other starter, got work receiving the play call.
Griffith returned to practice earlier this week after suffering a dislocated elbow in the preseason opener against Dallas and will wear a brace on that left elbow all year. Singleton, a free agent pickup this offseason, led the Eagles in tackles each of the past two seasons.
The other inside linebacker on the Broncos roster is Justin Strnad, who appeared in 16 games (five starts) in his second season last year after missing all of his rookie campaign with a wrist injury.
Also on the injury front, Hackett said receiver KJ Hamler (knee), outside linebacker Randy Gregory (shoulder) and right tackle Billy Turner (knee) are listed as questionable.
Bonitto ready to debut. Outside linebacker Nik Bonitto, the team’s top draft pick this year in the second round at No. 64 overall, is eager to make his NFL debut after playing in all three preseason games.
Bonitto was quiet in those first two games — no solo tackles and two penalties — before going off in the finale against Minnesota. In the win at Empower Field, the rookie out of Oklahoma had six tackles (four solo), two sacks for 17 yards, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble.
“I feel like when he first got here, he was kind of scared to mess up when it came to the plays,” Chubb said. “But as the preseason went on, I saw him get more and more comfortable, and the last preseason game was a testament to how he’s already totally evolved as a rookie. He went out there and got sacks on consecutive plays in the fourth quarter and that was a big statement.”
Bonitto played sparingly on special teams throughout the preseason, but could see a few snaps on those teams come Monday.