ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — One game, two starters lost.
The Broncos' season-opening victory came at a cost.
The team placed veteran cornerback Ronald Darby and standout receiver Jerry Jeudy on the short-term injured reserve list Tuesday. Darby strained his hamstring late in the fourth quarter against the Giants, while Jeudy suffered a high right ankle sprain in the third quarter. Darby should return soon after his three-week window opens, possibly at Pittsburgh, while the expectation remains that Jeudy will be sidelined four to six weeks as Denver7 reported Monday.
Darby's loss came as a surprise as his health was not mentioned when coach Fangio addressed the media on Sunday and Monday. This is why, however, teams do not trade cornerbacks even as teams called general manager George Paton repeatedly over the last few weeks. You can never have enough in the pass-drunk NFL.
Darby's absences moves first-round rookie Pat Surtain II into the starting lineup. Surtain starred in training camp, but scuffled in the opener, playing 16 snaps and none after missing a tackle on Sterling Shephard's touchdown catch.
With Darby and Jeudy sidelined, the Broncos promoted cornerback Nate Hairston and receiver Kendall Hinton from the practice squad. They are expected to fill their practice squad spots with former Wyoming receiver Rico Gafford and strong camp performer, cornerback Rojesterman Farris.
Darby represented the team's top offseason signing. He joined the Broncos on a three-year, $30 million deal with $19.5 million guaranteed. He quietly played well all summer, with his strong man-to-man coverage skills blending well with Fangio's zone concepts. Last season he played all 16 games for the first time in his career. With Surtain moving outside, it leaves Bryce Callahan in the slot and Kyle Fuller flanking him.
Hinton earned his promotion over former draft picks and practice squaders Seth Williams and Tyrie Cleveland. Hinton will forever be linked to Broncos history. He played quarterback for the team last season against New Orleans after the entire position was wiped out after violating COVID-19 protocols. Hinton's wristband with the plays on it was placed in the Hall of Fame.
"It was cool. I just wish I would have played better," said Hinton, who found out the night before he was going to be playing QB for the first time since early in his college career at Wake Forest.
Hinton went back to work, improving as a receiver. He nearly made the Broncos team in training camp, a late cut, after showing improvement on his routes and in special teams.
The Broncos return to practice on Wednesday as a 6-point favorite at Jacksonville.