On Monday, the Broncos were uncertain when they would get their Pro Bowl left tackle Ryan Clady back in the lineup. On Wednesday the answer came and it wasn't good news: Clady has been placed on season-ending injured reserve, the team announced.
The anchor of the offensive line suffered a Lisfranc injury in Sunday's win over the Giants, and he will now have surgery on his left foot. Chris Clark, the second-year player who signed a two-year extension last week, will replace Clady in the lineup. The fifth-year pro has appeared in 42 games, including six starts at tight end in 2011.
"I'm so excited about getting this opportunity," Clark said Tuesday, via USAToday.com. "Coming from the practice squad, undrafted, you don't think you're going to get these kind of opportunities to start in the NFL. Now that it's here I'm going to embrace it, and I definitely won't take it for granted. …
"I've learned a lot from all the guys, but Clady in particular," Clark continued. "Just the way he moves, the way he sets, the way he moves his feet and hands, attention to detail," Clark said. "You try to mimic those things because he's been a great player, and those things will help me a lot."
Clady, meanwhile, signed a five-year, $57.5 million deal in August, which now makes him the highest-paid offensive line coach in the league.
How much the loss of Clady affects the Broncos' offense is another matter. This group was explosive over the first two weeks, and while much of that has to do with quarterback Peyton Manning, keeping him well protected in the pocket certainly didn't hurt.