ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A battered Denver Broncos defense, coming off its best all-around effort of the season in Sunday's 30-16 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, will have to make do without yet another starter in the short term.
Rookie cornerback Pat Surtain II, who was the Broncos' first-round draft pick this past April, could miss multiple weeks with what team sources said is a sprained knee. The Broncos were taking that diagnosis as good news, however, with Surtain's potential return to the lineup after Denver's Week 11 bye if he doesn't practice at all this week.
Surtain left the win over the Cowboys in the third quarter and had an MRI on Monday morning. Broncos coach Vic Fangio was asked Monday if he had concerns that Surtain's injury was season-ending, and he said, "I don't think that's the case.''
It's unclear when Surtain suffered the injury. With 6 minutes, 54 seconds left in the third quarter, Surtain ran stride for stride with Cowboys receiver Cedrick Wilson and raised his arms after the play to celebrate what was a fourth-down incompletion by Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott on the play.
The next time the Broncos' defense took the field, with 4:43 left in the third quarter, Kyle Fuller was in Surtain's left cornerback spot.
The Broncos' defense has taken its share of injury lumps. The team already has four defensive starters on injured reserve, with four other defensive starters not on injured reserve who have also missed games this season. Surtain will be the fifth in that group. The Broncos also traded linebacker Von Miller to the Los Angeles Rams last Monday.
Still, on Sunday, the Broncos led the Cowboys 30-0 until 4:14 was left in the game -- it would have been the first shutout of the Cowboys at home since 1991 -- and Prescott had 79 yards passing at the end of the third quarter.
Surtain has started eight games this season and played at least 93% of the defensive snaps in five games. He had his first career interception in the Week 2 win over Jacksonville and his eight pass breakups are tied for the team lead with safety Justin Simmons.