Broncos hope Shane Ray will be ready for on-field work this week

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- When the Denver Broncos players return to work Monday as they continue through “Phase 2’’ of their offseason workouts, the plan is for first-round pick Shane Ray to be among them.

Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said this past week he still expected Ray, who suffered a toe injury in Missouri’s bowl game to close out the 2014 season, to be able to participate at least some on May 18. By league rules, Ray could not participate in anything other than the Broncos rookie minicamp until his school had its graduation ceremony.

Missouri was scheduled to conclude its graduation weekend on Sunday.

Ray did not participate in the Broncos minicamp because of what he called “a variation of turf toe.’’ Ray did not work out at the scouting combine this past February because of the injury and was limited some in his on-campus pro day.

The Broncos believe the combination of rehab and orthotics in Ray’s shoe will help his recovery. Given third-round pick Jeff Heuerman suffered a season-ending ACL injury on the last day of minicamp, the Broncos don’t figure to rush Ray back for these workouts if he isn’t ready.

“I understand it’s definitely part of the process for me to be 100 percent because that’s the goal,’’ Ray said in recent weeks. “Me as a competitor, of course I would like to be out there and competing and doing what I can, but this is something I have to be smart with and take the proper direction under the medical staff.’’

The Broncos traded up five spots in the first round of the draft -- to No. 23 -- to select Ray, who was the Southeastern Conference’s defensive player of the year. He is expected to contribute immediately in the team’s 3-4 defense, initially at weak-side outside linebacker as DeMarcus Ware’s backup.

The Broncos will be in Phase 2 of the offseason workouts -- positional work with coaches, but no 11-on-11 work against the defense -- until May 27, when the Broncos can begin Phase 3, which includes 11-on-11 work between offense and defense, including a three-day mandatory minicamp June 9-11.