Losing Dumervil latest phase in Broncos’ run of horrid luck

Aug 5th, 2010 | By sportsnews | Category: Sports

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The scope of the loss of Elvis Dumervil in Denver, perhaps for the season and at least several months, has yet to be felt.

That is, unless the immediate emotional toll is taken into consideration.

“I actually almost cried,” cornerback Champ Bailey said.

“I caught a few tears in my eyes,” outside linebacker Jarvis Moss added.

Just think how team owner Pat Bowlen feels.

Only weeks after dishing out more than $43 million in guaranteed money to the NFL’s leader in sacks, Dumervil’s chest muscle snapped during a one-on-one pass rushing drill Wednesday night.

The diagnosis isn’t good, even without Dumervil’s expected second opinion that will determine whether he’s bound for injured reserve or simply misses the majority of the season.

The bottom line is Moss, Mario Haggan or anyone else on the roster moved into Dumveril’s vacated spot haunting the quarterback’s blindside can’t replace his production, or draw the kind of attention Dumveril was bound to receive.

“I can come out and get 20 sacks and it won’t matter,” admitted Robert Ayers, the 2009 first-round pick who flanked Dumveril at left outside linebacker, and a player whose expectations for the coming season just rose even higher.

“My 20 sacks would have been more with him.”

Dumveril’s injury has sent those expectations north of just plain ridiculous around Denver’s Dove Valley headquarters.

Forget Jimmy Johnson on Survivor. Send him to Broncos training camp and see if he can last more than a few days.

Knowshon Moreno couldn’t. Correll Buckhalter didn’t, either. The team’s top two running backs were hurt in Denver’s first training camp seven-on-seven drill.

Now, it’s Dumervil, and his is the most serious injury of all.

This, after an offseason in which arguably the team’s top player, left tackle Ryan Clady, tore his patellar tendon while playing pickup basketball. He’s on the non-football injury list and has been seen only gingerly walking from weight room to locker room while his teammates practice.

D.J. Williams, another key player, opened camp Sunday but since has disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle known as the Broncos’ training room. Players go there for treatment and since coach Josh McDaniels comes from the Bill Belichick school of discussing injuries, no one ever is exactly sure when they’ll return or what’s bothering them.

Denver scribes get an upper body ailment just trying to read between the lines while key players like Brian Dawkins miss a third straight practice Thursday either as a concession to age or because of an actual ailment.

McDaniels wouldn’t even acknowledge the severity of Dumveril’s chest trauma at his news conference, even while the ‘s’ word for surgery was openly being discussed elsewhere around Dove Valley.

“You lose a player with that kind of impact, no one looks forward to that,” McDaniels said. “But at the end of the season, nobody will write the record is such-and-such and Elvis Dumervil had an injury in training camp. They’ll write the record was such-and-such.”

The Dumveril situation is akin to when the Patriots lost Tom Brady with McDaniels the offensive coordinator in 2008, only in this case from a defensive perspective.

Offensive lineman Russ Hochstein was in New England at the time and in Denver this week for both worst-case scenarios.

“It’s depressing,” Hochstein said of losing key players. “Even this morning when he told us, it was like, ‘Ugghhh.’ That’s never good news and you never want to hear that.”

Brady’s injury happened during Week 1 of the regular season. Dumervil went down even before Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.

“Both of them happened early, and in doing so, the whole team has to rally right away,” Hochstein said. “We have no time. We have no other option for it. There’s no other resort. We have to rally now and go play good defense, play good offense and do the best we can.”

Without Moreno and Buckhalter, Denver signed LenDale White and is quickly trying to assimilate him into the offense. The two players getting the most carries are Lance Ball and Bruce Hall, who have combined to appear in one NFL game.

D’Anthony Batiste and Tyler Polumbus, best suited as depth on a top-tier offensive line, have run with the first team at left tackle without Clady, arguably the top young offensive tackle in the league

As for Dumervil’s spot, Moss has told reporters that he can’t wait to make them eat their words for the bust label that’s been affixed to him since Denver traded up to get him in 2007.

He’ll never have a better chance.

Moss became a workout warrior this offseason after admitting to attending only about half the offseason program the previous year. But at 240 pounds, it will be difficult for him to hold the edge even with added muscle. He hasn’t demonstrated the dominant pass-rush quickness he had before getting hurt during his rookie training camp.

“It’s important to me now,” Moss said. “Everything happens for a reason, and when there’s opportunities in front of you, you can’t let them pass. … That’s my focus. I have the ability. If I keep working at it like this, I’ll be able to help out just fine.”

On the bright side, free-agent nose tackle Jamal Williams was activated off the active/PUP list Thursday.

Check that, two players with legitimate shots to make the team, wide receiver Kenny McKinley (knee) and safety Josh Barrett (shoulder) at the same time landed on injured reserve.

“Hard and early,” is the way newcomer Justin Bannan described the spate of injuries in Denver. “I think every team goes through it -– some teams more than others. But for whatever reason, this is the hand we’re being dealt.

“It’s a lot like life. Sometimes things happen. You have to figure out a way to move on.”

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