ENGLEWOOD – In a season turned sour, add Ronald Leary’s injury to the long list of the Denver Broncos’ misfortunes.
Leary’s first season in Denver has been cut short by a back injury that sidelined the sixth-year guard the last two weeks after he started the first 11 games at right tackle.
“Ron needs rest and rehab right now, no surgery,” coach Vance Joseph said. “He was working hard to get better but it wasn’t getting better fast enough for us. We’ve got three more weeks and it’s just smart for us to shut him down and get him healthy for next season.”
Leary is the fourth member of Denver’s free agent class to miss time with an injury and the second to go on injured reserve, where he joined tackle Menelik Watson (torn calf).
Nose tackle Domata Peko saw his 123-game starting streak end two weeks ago because of a knee injury and defensive lineman Zach Kerr missed four of the first five games with leg injuries.
Denver’s draft class hasn’t fared much better.
Tight end Jake Butt (knee), quarterback Chad Kelly (hand, knee) and receiver Carlos Henderson (thumb) all are spending their rookie seasons on IR. Returner Isaiah McKenzie, cornerback Brendan Langley and running back De’Angelo Henderson were all healthy scratches Sunday.
Leary was the cornerstone of Denver’s free agent class last winter when he signed a four-year, $35 million deal with $20 million in guarantees after spending his first five seasons in Dallas.
Leary was a solid addition up front even as the Broncos’ refurbished offensive line sprung leaks as former offensive coordinator Mike McCoy spread out his personnel in three-receiver sets that didn’t provide help for his struggling tackles.
Connor McGovern has replaced Leary in the lineup and the Broncos signed tight end Matt LaCosse off the Giants’ practice squad Tuesday to take Leary’s roster spot.
LaCosse is a third-year pro from the University of Illinois who had three catches for 22 yards in five games with the Giants from 2015-17. He played in three games with the Giants this season.
“He’s young, he’s played some football,” Joseph said. “It’s a position where we can get better with his skill set.”
The Broncos (4-9) play the Colts (3-10) on Thursday night in Indianapolis and Joseph acknowledged the film of the Colts’ 13-7 overtime loss at Buffalo in a blizzard was useless in Denver’s preparation this week.
“We tried to watch it but you can’t,” Joseph said. “I mean, you can’t see it. You can’t see numbers. They’re wearing all white. So, it wasn’t worth watching. I watched about 15 plays and I couldn’t see anything so I turned it off.”
NotesQB Paxton Lynch (ankle) and S Justin Simmons (ankle) missed practice again Tuesday. S Jamal Carter (shoulder) and Peko were limited. Joseph said Peko “should be able to go on Thursday night.”