ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — When Nathaniel Hackett saw a player injured while in Denver on Tuesday, his first instinct was to turn the drill to the other side of the court and plow forward.
That’s life in the NFL and, unfortunately, injuries are inevitable.
On the ground, however, was wide receiver Tim Patrick, so the show didn’t continue.
Instead, the players circled around Patrick, who took a jumping back-shoulder catch past socket corner Essang Bassey during a team practice, but his right leg was broken several times when he tried to move after landing. minutes as he is attended by the trainer.
Another receiver, Courtland Sutton, and quarterback Russell Wilson arrived right away, and soon the entire team gathered around Patrick, the former undrafted free agent who made himself the team’s most consistent. , then received a three-year, $34 million contract extension. last year.
A person familiar with the matter confirmed to USA TODAY Sports late Tuesday afternoon that Patrick tore his right anterior cruciate ligament, which is expected to keep him out for the entire season. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose medical information until the team disclosed the injuries.
“A guy like Tim, he’s an amazing leader and has done everything we asked for, it breaks your heart because you love him,” Hackett said. “On the other hand, it’s going to give other guys a chance to grow and really be a great player because that’s what we need.”
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All in all, the practice was paused for about five minutes. Defensive back Kareem Jackson, who is entering his 13th year in the NFL, said he doesn’t think he sees a practice pause like Denver did when Patrick went down.
The team period resumes, although the tone of the practice has changed considerably.
“I think our team as a whole, we’ve all become very connected and everyone cares a lot about each other, but Tim is a very influential person for this team. A leader, a veterinarian,” Sutton said. “He’s the vet you want to shape your young man. This guy does everything he needs to do to make sure he’s ready for practice, ready for games. …
“Everyone wants to go there to make sure he’s okay, people are there to pray for him and tell him to keep his head up, stay positive and continue to hope for the best in this situation.”
Patrick made his mark on special teams early in his career, but he’s turned himself into a solid, physical wide receiver who has done nearly the same in each of the past two seasons. The numbers ended with a total of 104 catches, 1,476 yards and 11 touchdowns in 31 games.
Receiver KJ Hamler, who was activated from the physically incapacitated roster a day ago after knee and hip surgery last year, said he had “reflected” on his injury when Patrick went down. Shortly after Patrick was taken to the locker room, Hamler left the training ground to look for him in the team’s facility.
“I’m off the pitch. It’s more important to me,” Hamler said. “I just prayed with him. God works in mysterious ways. I don’t know, it’s even hard to explain right now.”
One of the more intriguing issues facing Denver’s offense under Hackett as the day began was that Wilson and a receiving trio of Patrick, Sutton and Jerry Jedi were in a Dangerous passing attack in quick time.
Sutton had 1,112 receiving yards as a sophomore in 2019, but then dealt with an injury in 2020 and finished last fall with 776 yards and two touchdowns. Judy has 856 yards as a rookie in 2020 but no touchdowns and only completed 467 last year. Despite the drop in numbers, Jeudy, a former first-round pick from Alabama, was well-received by Hackett and Wilson early in training camp.
The whole group certainly played a role in the first six practices, but there were moments when time lags or difficulty getting big chunks came against the talented middle school Simmons, led by second-year corner Pat Sultan II and seventh-grade safety Justin. .
Wilson, for example, hit back-to-back touchdowns on Sutton and Judy in the red zone on Wednesday, but missed Sutton with two short passes before that and took two minutes after the game to get extra timing and footwork. .
Now that Patrick has been sidelined for the entire season, the question is how much receiving depth the Broncos actually have on their roster. Hamler, who is not on the PUP list but has yet to practice with the team, said Monday that he does not know if he will play in the preseason. Rookie Montreux Washington was drafted in the fifth round and emerged as an impactful returning player, but has turned heads, including several games on Tuesday.
“I don’t think anyone knows exactly where he’s going to put himself in the wide receiver rotation, and he’s definitely the guy that Russell has locked in and is really trying to push around the rookie,” Hackett said. “It’s so different from what he’s been in before, but he’s got a lot of it and he’s playing a lot of good games here. … “We’re excited. He will have to stand up. “
After that, roster and role competition has featured Kendall Hinton, Travis Fulgarm, Special Teams regular-season Terry Cleveland, undrafted rookie Brandon Johnson and others.
“All of these people have to come together,” Hackett said. “It’s part of this game. The worst part of this game is what happens, but it also has to bring your team together.
“You have to show support and love for the family and we have to find a way to fill that void.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Parker Gabriel on Twitter @ParkerJGabriel.