Denver Broncos cornerback Ronald Darby is headed to injured reserve, along with wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, putting an early-season test to the depth of one of the NFL's most cornerback-rich teams.
Darby injured his hamstring late in the Broncos' season-opening win over the New York Giants. While Darby didn't miss a snap in the game, Jeudy's ankle injury looked like a much bigger scare. But Jeudy's injury is not season-ending, and Darby is expected back shortly after the three-week absence required by short-term injured reserve status, per the Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran.
The Broncos announced they will elevate CB Nate Hairston from the practice squad to replace Darby, and WR Kendall Hinton to replace Jeudy.
Jeudy's injury takes a big weapon away from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, leaving WRs Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick and KJ Hamler to command the bulk of game reps until Jeudy returns. Jeudy caught six of seven targets against the Giants for a team-high 72 yards.
Darby, a seventh-year veteran, made six solo tackles and broke up a pass in a solid overall defensive effort by Denver. His injury will surely mean an increased role for rookie first-round pick Patrick Surtain II, who played just 15 snaps against the Giants, but it's a move the Broncos coaching staff will be confident in assigning.
"We just wanted him to play some," coach Vic Fangio said of Surtain after his first game action Sunday. "He's too good of a player to only play in the dime package (six defensive backs), so we want to have him ready, and we're grooming him — not grooming him — but he deserves to play some, so we're going to play him some."
Denver Broncos general manager George Paton said in the preseason that the club had fielded trade calls from other teams interested in adding a cornerback, but that he preferred to stand pat at such a premium position.
Already, that stance is paying dividends.