Sam Brandon’s season is over.
A Monday MRI confirmed the Broncos’ worst fears — that the fifth-year safety tore his anterior cruciate ligament on a collision with Demetrin Veal late in Sunday’s 31-20 win at Pittsburgh.
“You could see it happen right in front of you,” Head Coach Mike Shanahan said. “It was just a freak injury and it’s really a shame, because he’s really been playing well.”
Brandon knew immeditately that the injury was severe.
“I felt the play, so I know what happened,” Brandon said. “I could feel it. It was pretty painful.”
The fifth-year safety played extensively Sunday after Nick Ferguson incurred a second-quarter concussion on a collision with Pittsburgh’s Hines Ward, but most of Brandon’s action came in the team’s “Big Nickel” scheme, where they used Brandon as a fifth defensive back instead of inserting a third cornerback as is routine for a nickel package. The scheme was designed to help combat the threat posed by some of the productive tight ends the Broncos face — including Kansas City’s Tony Gonzalez and San Diego’s Antonio Gates — and, for the most part, it has worked since it was installed last year.
The scheme won’t be tossed out because of Brandon’s absence, but Shanahan declined to indicate who would replace him in the scheme.
“Someone will play that position,” Shanahan said. “Obviously we won’t talk about who will play it for obvious reasons, but we’ll still have a big nickel, a regular nickel, and we’ll still go with that type of mindset.”
Sunday night, Curome Cox replaced Brandon after the injury, and recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass as the Broncos salted away the win.
Other injuries of note:
- Ebenezer Ekuban: Strained thigh; undergoing MRI examination later Monday.
- Patrick Chukwurah: Strained hamstring; undergoing MRI examination later Monday.
- Ian Gold: Strained hamstring, undergoing MRI examination later Monday.
- Nick Ferguson: Concussion; CT scan came up negative.
- John Lynch: Concussion; CT scan came up negative.
- Darrent Wiliams: Separated shoulder; will know more Wednesday.
- Rod Smith: Separated shoulder; will know more Wednesday.
- Al Wilson: “Mild” concussion; no examination.
Counting Brandon’s season-ending tear, that’s nine injuries discussed by Shanahan at his press conference Monday — eight on defense.
“I don’t think I can ever remember losing as many guys on one side of the football,” Shanahan said.
Tags: Al Wilson, Darrent Williams, Defensive linemen, Ebenezer Ekuban, Ian Gold, Injury report, John Lynch, Linebackers, Mike Shanahan, Nick Ferguson, Patrick Chukwurah, Rod Smith, Safeties, Sam Brandon, Wide receivers