On Tuesday, the Broncos placed middle linebacker Joe Mays on injured reserve.
Mays suffered a left ankle injury last Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
Safety Duke Ihenacho was added to the active roster as the corresponding move.
“We’re going to miss Joe,” fellow linebacker Wesley Woodyard said Monday. “Things definitely won’t be the same without having him out there, his presence, his leadership and his ability to go out there and make plays.”
Mays started four games this season, chipping in 19 tackles and a half a sack.
Last year, Mays started a career-best 12 games, finishing third on the club with 74 tackles. He also tied for the most tackles on the team with 15 in his two postseason starts.
“He’s definitely going to be a player that we miss,” Woodyard reiterated. “He’s going to be there making sure he’s watching film for us to give us coaching points and what we can do better. We’re going to miss him on the field, but he’s going to always be around in the locker room talking to us.”
A hit on Texans quarterback Matt Schaub left Mays with a one-week suspension earlier this season, and he found himself out of the starting lineup for the last two games he played in 2012.
But Mays didn’t let that affect his demeanor in the locker room.
“He’s a tough guy mentally,” Woodyard said of Mays. “He didn’t get down on himself. He continued to pick his teammates up and that’s one thing that you look for as a good teammate. Throughout the tough times, are you going to be the same person or are you going to be a different person? He was sad, but he continued to work hard every day and came out here and pushed everybody else and that’s the big thing we were proud about.”
Linebacker Keith Brooking said the team hates to lose a “warrior” like Mays, and recalled missing a large chunk of his third season in the NFL. For that reason, he said he can relate with Mays’ plight.
“The main things are for him just to keep his head up, keep fighting, believing and don’t allow it to get him down,” he said. “More than anything, it’s just motivation for him to come back even better than he was before.”
With Mays officially out for the rest of the season, the rest of the linebackers know it’s on them to step up in his absence.
“Everybody plays their own part,” Woodyard said. “Von (Miller) plays his part, Keith plays his part, myself, Nate (Irving). Everybody steps up and everybody holds their own weight.”