It's not even summer yet and Broncos outside linebacker Shane Ray has already seen his season get sidetracked by an injury. It turns out, the sore wrist that forced Ray to sit out Monday's practice will reportedly impact his availability for the start of the 2018 regular season.
On Wednesday night, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that Ray will undergo surgery on his wrist and is expected to miss three months, which means he's expected to miss the beginning of the season. The Broncos will open up the season with games against the Seahawks, Raiders, and Ravens before an Oct. 1 date with the Chiefs.
According to NFL Network's James Palmer, the upcoming operation will be Ray's fourth surgery on his wrist in the past year. The Athletic's Nicki Jhabvala characterized the surgery as a clean-up procedure.
Shane Ray is expected to undergo a clean-up procedure related to complications from the initial surgery on his left wrist. A team source characterized it as "better news than expected." He did not reinjure the wrist, but it will keep him out a while.— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) June 6, 2018
The development is a brutal break for a player entering a pivotal season. Ray, drafted with the 23rd pick in 2015, is entering the final year of his rookie deal after Bradley Chubb and the emergence of Shaquil Barrett (to go along with Derek Wolfe and Von Miller, of course), Ray has become expendable in Denver. Over the past three seasons, Barrett has collected 11 sacks. Ray has 13 in that span.Ray notched four sacks during his 14-game rookie season and proceeded to double his sack total in 2016, but his sack total dropped to one in an eight-game, injury-shortened 2017 season. Suddenly, with the addition of
The good news for Ray is that he'll still have a chance to prove his worth if he's able to return sometime in September or October. The bad news is that his competition within the team will get a chance to cement their roles on the defensive front with Ray sidelined.
For the Broncos, their depth on the defensive front means they're equipped to handle Ray's absence. Last year, they finished as the 10th-best defense by DVOA even though they were missing Ray for half the season. Ray will certainly help when he returns, but the Broncos can probably survive without him. Adding Chubb helps too, of course.
When the Broncos drafted Chubb, Ray seemed to find extra motivation as he prepared for the 2018 season.
2016 double digit sacks as a backup. 2017 injury— Shane Ray (@StingRay56) April 28, 2018
2018 just watch
Unfortunately for him, the injury woes that plagued him a year ago continue into this offseason.