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'Tough Pill to Swallow'

Posted Aug 16, 2012

Losing right guard Chris Kuper and defensive end Jason Hunter to injuries that required surgeries was 'tough' for teammates.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In one morning practice, the Broncos lost two players that were atop the depth chart at their respective positions.

On Tuesday, right guard Chris Kuper fractured his left forearm, and defensive end Jason Hunter injured his triceps. Both injuries required surgery.

"It’s tough," defensive tackle Justin Bannan said. "It’s not every day where you have a job where you can come out and all of a sudden you can break something or tear something. That’s a tough pill to swallow sometimes."

Kuper is expected to miss four to six weeks, and Head Coach John Fox said Hunter could be out four months.

What makes the loss of the players even harder, their teammates said, is what both bring to the field.

“It’s hurtful to lose Jason Hunter," linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. "He’s one of those guys that has a motor every day. Our coaches joke with him -- he’s one of those guys that gets excited driving to work. He’s in the parking lot ready. ‘Let’s go! Let’s go!'"

As for Kuper, tight end Joel Dreessen said he's a big-time presence in the offense huddle, providing toughness and physicality. Quarterback Peyton Manning admitted he's just getting to know Kuper, but he expects a player of his caliber to bounce back from the injury.

"It’s a tough loss for the short period of time," Manning said. "He’s a veteran player and obviously I’m getting to know him as a teammate but I can tell he’s a good leader. I know he’s a tough guy and I know he’ll rehab quickly and hopefully be back before the docs even say."

Both players expected to step up in Hunter and Kuper's absence -- rookie defensive lineman Derek Wolfe and sixth-year guard Manny Ramirez -- said they're ready to accept the challenge.

Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy said he expects nothing less.

"There are going to be some injuries from week to week, and the next guy steps up," McCoy said. "That’s the importance of all the OTAs, minicamp and training camp, so that when your opportunity does come, you’ve got to make the most of it in this business.”