Injury-riddled Broncos lose rookie Justin Strnad for year

THe linebacker was a fifth-round pick out of Wake Forest

Denver Broncos linebacker Justin Strnad, pictured last week during a team drill, will miss his entire rookie season following wrist surgery. (David Zalubowski / AP Photo)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos’ injury streak kept 11 players out of Monday’s practice and led coach Vic Fangio to suggest the NFL should have mixed in more off days to its training camp ramp-up period.

“I think there was too many days where they were going and we should have adjusted,” Fangio said, “but we followed the schedule the league put out and you know we live and learn from it.”

The most seriously injured of the 11 players who were sidelined was rookie linebacker Justin Strnad, who underwent wrist surgery and is out for the year after getting hurt during Sunday’s practice.

“It was a dislocation. That, in and of itself, wouldn’t put him out for the year, but there was other complications,” Fangio said.

Strnad was a fifth-round pick from Wake Forest who was expected to be Denver’s nickel inside linebacker.

With Strnad out, second-year hybrid linebacker Justin Hollins was moved inside to take his place.

Fangio had to adjust practice with so many players out. The Broncos offensive and defensive starters worked on the Tennessee Titans, their season-opening opponent on Sept. 14.

Nose tackle Mike Prucell was out with calf tightness and three others — wide receiver Tim Patrick, cornerback De’Vante Bausty and safety Alijah Holder — missed practice with what Fangio described only as “soft tissue injuries,” the kind being seen across the league as teams ramp up following the cornavirus-caused virtual offseason.

Rookie cornerback Michael Ojemudia (thigh), receiver K.J. Hamler (hamstring) and linebacker Todd Davis (calf) also were among those sidelined with soft tissue injuries and outside linebacker Malik Carney was ill.
Despite fewer practices than at this time last summer, the Broncos have had more injuries than they did during all of the 2019 training camp, said Fangio.

“I think there were some flaws in the way we set up the acclimation period along with the other stuff, but it doesn’t do anybody any good to whine about it now,” Fangio said. “We’ve just got to adjust and improvise and react to it, which we did.”