ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Early in training camp the Denver Broncos had enough bumps and bruises among the team's defensive linemen they finished out a practice with just six players able to take part in drills.
That could be a number the Broncos might have to get used to in the near future, though, as the Broncos have just eight healthy defensive linemen after moving nose tackle Marvin Austin Jr. to injured reserve Thursday afternoon with a groin injury. Defensive end Kenny Anunike also underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee Thurday morning.
Anunike’s knee swelled up earlier in the week, and the Broncos decided that he needed to have the doctors evaluate the knee some more. The Broncos expect Anunike back before the start of the regular season, though.
“They went in there to basically take a look at what was bothering him and obviously found out and got it taken care of," Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said. “It will be about two to three weeks ... He’s a hard-worker and we’ll get him back."
Anunike led the team with eight tackles in the preseason opener, registering one of the team’s seven sacks. Anunike had consistently drawn praise for his effort from Kubiak and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips throughout the offseason program and into training camp.
Anunike had consistently been working with the second-team defense, with an occasional snap with the starters at times.
Austin hasn’t participated in a full practice since Aug. 3, and rookie Darius Kilgo worked as the second-team nose tackle. The Broncos will likely try to reach an injury settlement with Austin in the coming days.
The Broncos did not add a defensive lineman after Austin was formally moved to injured reserve, instead claiming tight end Jake Murphy off of waivers.
Kilgo played 21 snaps in the preseason opener as Sylvester Williams' backup at nose tackle. But Anunike played 29 of the defense’s snaps last week against the Seahawks -- sixth-highest total on the defense in the game -- so the Broncos will likely play Vance Walker more (31 snaps against the Seahawks) and rookie Josh Watson will have an opportunity to play more.