ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the Broncos turn their attention to a Week 8 game against the Washington Football Team, they could get some much-needed reinforcements on offense from players recovering from injuries.
The most significant player of that lot would be wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, who has spent the previous six weeks on injured reserve since suffering an ankle injury in Denver's season opener against the Giants.
Head Coach Vic Fangio said Friday that Jeudy is expected to be ready to play by the next game.
"I think the expectation is he will play this game," Fangio said. "He was medically cleared to play this game, this past game. He wanted to play. We didn't think it was prudent to play him with no practice."
Jeudy, as a player designated for return from IR, is currently in a three-week practice window during which a team can decide whether a player is ready to return to the active roster. He has been able to practice with the team for about a week.
"Well, it's just another good player out there, and the more good players you have out there, the better chance you have," Fangio said. "He's definitely a good receiver, runs good routes, can get open, and we're looking forward to having him back."
In his lone game of the season, Jeudy was the Broncos' leading receiver with six catches for 72 yards in spite of missing much of the second half.
Tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, who has been on IR with a hamstring injury since Oct. 9, should make his return to practice ahead of the Washington game, Fangio added. However, he was unsure whether Okwuegbunam would be able to play in the Week 8 game after so little practice time.
"We'll see where he's at," Fangio said. "There was some hope, when he first got hurt, that he would only miss two games, but with the third game being a Thursday game, we put him on IR. He wouldn't have been able to play last night if we didn't IR him. And we'll see where he's at this week. Hopefully he'll be good."
However, on the defensive side of the ball, Denver's list of injuries only grew after Thursday's game in Cleveland. Fangio revealed that nose tackle Mike Purcell suffered a thumb injury during the game, joining outside linebacker Von Miller (ankle) and inside linebacker Micah Kiser (groin) as Week 7 starters who could miss time due to injuries suffered during the game.
Purcell could miss a couple weeks, Fangio said, but they're still evaluating their options. Fangio add that regardless of whether Purcell has surgery or waits to have it, he'd have to wear a cast on his hand to play.
"The way it was explained to me today, they're not sure," Fangio said. "But in either case, whenever he does play with it, he'll have a cast on his hand, which for a D-lineman is rough."
As far as Miller's ankle sprain, Fangio said they're still unsure of the severity but added that they should know more by early next week.
Kiser, meanwhile, will miss "a couple weeks." Denver has now lost two starting inside linebackers to injury in as many weeks, as Alexander Johnson suffered a season-ending pectoral injury in Week 6.
The team will "possibly" look at adding new inside linebackers to the team to bolster its depth, Fangio said.
And in the wake of so many soft-tissue injuries, Fangio said the team will continue to evaluate its conditioning program.
"We look at everything," Fangio said. "I mean, as you guys know, we took a deep dive on the injuries this offseason. We've done anything and everything we can to mitigate injuries. We haven't mitigated them enough, obviously. But we do look at it constantly, yes."