Denver Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan will miss six to eight weeks with a broken bone in his shin. It’s not great news but given what it looked like when he initially went down, it’s not terrible news either.
Even if Trevathan is out the entire eight weeks, he likely only misses four games. This is where the early bye week in week four actually helps the Broncos. There’s an outside chance that Trevathan could be back in time for the week five game versus the Arizona Cardinals, but week six versus the New York Jets seems more likely.
Despite the good news, relatively speaking, the Broncos will miss Trevathan over the first month of the season and have to find a way to replace him on the field. The Broncos are deep at every position, including linebacker, and that depth is about to get tested.
As I wrote earlier today, veteran Brandon Marshall will likely get the first shot to replace Trevathan. Marshall was with the Broncos on their practice squad for the first fifteen weeks of last season, and was activated when Von Miller tore his ACL versus the Houston Texans.
Marshall has had a very good training camp and distanced himself from the others competing for roster spots. He has been firmly entrenched with the second team and has some of the same abilities that make Trevathan so difficult to replace, especially versus the run.
The wildcard is rookie Lamin Barrow from LSU. Barrow was a fourth round selection in last May’s draft and is a guy the Broncos really like. There’s no denying Barrow’s athletic ability; he’s fast and has the instincts to be a very good player in the NFL.
The drawbacks with Barrow are obvious; he’s young and raw. As good as Trevathan is today, he struggled through his rookie season before making an impact in 2013. The biggest asset that Barrow has going for him right now is his ability to cover, and that could lead to the position being spilt between Marshall and Barrow.
Everything is a guess at this point but look for Marshall to play in the base defense, and Barrow to replace him in obvious passing situations. In addition to the play on the field, there’s another question that must be answered.
Trevathan wears the helmet with the radio receiver in it to get the defensive calls from coordinator, Jack Del Rio. The player who has that is usually someone who does not leave the field, and is also usually a linebacker. My first thought was that responsibility would go to Nate Irving, but he often leaves the field on passing downs.
It’s unorthodox but it would not shock me if that responsibility fell to safety, TJ Ward. Despite being new to the team after signing as a free agent, Ward has already developed into a leader and will always be on the field. Ward has also been playing the middle linebacker position in passing situations, and giving him the helmet with the radio receiver makes sense.
The Broncos have two preseason games left where the starters will actually play, starting with Sunday’s game versus the San Francisco 49ers. Keep an eye on the play of Marshall and Barrow in those games, the one that plays better likely starts on opening night versus the Indianapolis Colts.
No one every wants to see a player like Trevathan go down, but it happens in a contact sport. The good news is it is not for the season, and the Broncos are well equipped to handle it in the short-term.