CARSON, Calif. -- At least in the short-term the Denver Broncos have dealt with their growing injury issues in-house.
Right tackle Menelik Watson and his backup at right tackle -- Donald Stephenson -- will miss Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers with calf injuries. Watson was injured in the Broncos’ loss to the New York Giants last Sunday night while Stephenson was injured in Thursday’s practice.
Linebacker Corey Nelson, a key situational player on defense as well as on special teams, also suffered a season-ending elbow injury in Thursday’s practice. Nelson was placed on injured reserve as the week drew to a close.
And the Broncos covered for all three injuries with players from their own practice squad. Linebacker Jerrol Garcia-Williams, center Dillon Day and tackle Elijah Williamson were all signed off the team’s practice squad and are expected to be in uniform against the Chargers.
With wide receiver Hunter Sharp's promotion from the practice squad earlier in the week, the Broncos have moved four players off their practice squad to the roster in the last five days The Broncos had a roster spot open already, created another when Nelson went to injured reserve and then waived nose tackle Kyle Peko on Saturday.
Allen Barbre, who made three of his 12 starts for the Philadelphia Eagles at right tackle last season, will open at right tackle against the Chargers. Melvin Ingram is third in the league in sacks (7.5) while Bosa is tied for seventh (5.5) and they are the only teammates among the league’s top 12 heading into Sunday’s games.
With a backup in Barbre at right tackle and a rookie at left tackle in Garett Bolles, the Chargers figure to see early in the game if the Broncos have a better plan for Bosa and Ingram than they did in the opener when each finished with 1.5 sacks.
Broncos coach Vance Joseph said earlier this week, “We can’t double them all the time."
The Chargers are last in the league in run defense, having allowed 152.5 yards rushing per game, and the Broncos are ninth in the league in rushing at 123.6 yards rushing per game. The Broncos will try to pound away at the Chargers' defense and try to get the ball out of quarterback Trevor Siemian's hand as quickly as possible.
In the opening-week win over the Chargers, the Broncos rushed for 140 yards.
"We always feel like that’s key for us," running back C.J. Anderson said. “We need to protect (Siemian) back there, run the ball, protect him in the passing game, and he’ll do what he needs to do.’’