ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Outside linebacker Shane Ray will start Monday night's game in Kansas City in his first game back from injury, Head Coach Vance Joseph announced Wednesday.
Ray, who tore a ligament in his left wrist during training camp, had been on track to play Monday, but Joseph had not yet confirmed the talented edge rusher would play and start opposite Von Miller.
"Shane looked great last week in practice," Joseph said. "Obviously he's not in great football shape, but Shane's going to play [Monday]. He's going to start. Shane provides, opposite of Von, a great rusher. So they can't tee off on Von. They can't chip both guys. They can chip both guys, but it'd force them to run three-man routes. We like that.
"Having Shane back — obviously a great player, a guy that plays with great energy — that's going to help our defense."
Ray racked up eight sacks, 33 tackles and two fumble recoveries in 2016. He returned one of the fumbles for a touchdown in the Broncos' Week 2 win against Indianapolis.
He'll have a limited number of opportunities to make those sorts of plays Monday. Joseph said Ray will be on a snap count this week as he eases his way back into football shape.
"It being his first game back, you can't play him the entire game," Joseph said. "So absolutely he'll be on a pitch count, and Shaq's played solid for us, so he deserves to play anyway."
Ray's return could help the Broncos generate more turnovers. Entering Week 8, the team ranked 29th in the NFL in takeways, as it has generated no fumble recoveries and just four interceptions. Ray's presence off the edge could change that in a hurry.
"It's my job to help create turnovers, create strip-sacks, fumbles, batted balls — just be disruptive," Ray said. "With me coming back into the fold [and] us being more dynamic in how we rush the passer, we can basically start creating turnovers. That's what we need.
"This team lives and thrives off of the turnover margin, and we haven't done a good job of getting the ball this year. So we have to do better."
Ray remains on the injured reserve list, but he will be activated at some point before Monday's game against the Chiefs. The Broncos currently have just 52 players on the active roster and will not need to make a corresponding roster move to elevate Ray.
"It'll be good to have Shane back." President of Football Operations/GM John Elway told Broncos TV on Tuesday. "It's going to take a little bit of time to get him back into it because he hasn't played, but it's good to have him back. He's a big part of the defense. He'll add another pass rusher for us and be able to spell those three guys too. We're thrilled that Shane will be back."