ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --With David Bruton Jr. given a timetable of four to six weeks to recover from the fractured fibula he suffered Sunday, the Broncos chose to place him on injured reserve Tuesday, signing Shaun Prater to replace him on the 53-man roster.
Bruton battled through the injury, which he suffered with 1:58 remaining in the first quarter, and completed the game, playing 95 snaps -- 77 on defense and 18 on special teams. He could not put weight on the leg after the game, and a Monday MRI revealed the fractured fibula.
"I couldn't step. I couldn't plant off of it," Bruton said Monday. "Everything was planted off the bad knee, and trying to stop and change direction was tough. It was tough going out there and covering an offense such as the Steelers' on one leg, but, again, things happen for a reason."
Bruton knew Monday that season-ending injured reserve was a possibility.
"I would love to say in a perfect world I'm healed in three weeks, we have the bye week and then I'm back for that initial round of the playoffs for us." Bruton said Monday, "but again, it's what the coaches see fit, how the roster shakes out and things of that nature."
Recallable injured reserve was not an option. Although the Broncos have not yet used the one recallable designation they are permitted each season, a player given that status must remain on injured reserve eight weeks. With just seven weeks remaining in the season -- including playoffs and the pre-Super Bowl bye -- that was off the table.
Prater is the third safety signed by the Broncos this month, joining Josh Bush and Shiloh Keo. Starting safeties T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart continue to deal with ankle and hamstring injuries, respectively, although the Broncos expect both to practice this week.
Backup Omar Bolden has been sidelined the last two games with a hamstring injury, which was an aggravation of a training-camp injury.
Prater last played for the Minnesota Vikings, playing seven defensive snaps and two on special teams in their 23-20 loss at Arizona on Dec. 10. He was waived four days later.
The four-year veteran had two stints with the Colts earlier this season -- for four days, from Sept. 29 through Oct. 2, and again from Oct. 4-20. He played in one game for the Colts: a 27-20 win at Houston in which all 13 of his snaps were on special teams.
He has played in 21 games in his career, starting three -- all of them with the Vikings in 2013. He broke into the league as a fifth-round pick of the Bengals in 2012, but spent his rookie season on injured reserve and never played a regular-season down for them.