A pair of knee injuries will force the Broncos to shift some spots for their Week 17 battle with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Head Coach Josh McDaniels announced at his Monday press conference that Russ Hochstein and Kenny McKinley were both being placed on injured reserve today. He added that Hochstein needs surgery, while McKinley is still being evaluated.
Hochstein has started 10 games this season, including the last eight at left guard. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said that loss will challenge another player to fill the void, but within the same constructs of what the team has accomplished with Hochstein.
“He has done a nice job since he’s stepped in and started playing,” McCoy said. “The next guy’s going to have to step in and do a good job. We’ve got to continue doing what we’ve been doing with him in there.”
With Eddie Royal inactive for the Eagles game due to a head/neck injury, McKinley was expected to see more touches on both special teams and offense. That proved to be the case late in the first quarter, as the rookie took the team’s first kickoff return for a 22-yard gain.
But on that play, McKinley endured a hard collision with an Eagles coverage man and did not return.
“It’s always hard when you lose someone like that, where they’ve done a great job and worked hard as a young player coming in,” McCoy said. “He’s really worked extremely hard to make the most of his opportunities. It’s just unfortunate that the injury happened.”
Despite the injuries, McDaniels motioned to some areas that need to be stronger for the Broncos to secure a win in their final regular season game. One of those spots was greater physicality in their blocking scheme, which paved the way for only 70 rushing yards against Philadelphia’s front seven.
“We did not win the line of scrimmage offensively, and they did a great job defensively of being more physical than we were up front,” McDaniels said. “They knocked us back into the backfield quite a few times and held us on a third-and-one. We did convert a short-yardage situation, but ultimately when we watch the running game, we’re watching what’s going on at the line of scrimmage.”
– Chris Gentilviso, DenverBroncos.com