Broncos' Shane Ray reportedly expected to miss start of season due to wrist surgery

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 SeahawksRaiders, 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.

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 the Broncos declined to pick up his fifth-year option in May. 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 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.

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. 

Unfortunately for him, the injury woes that plagued him a year ago continue into this offseason.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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