DENVER — Standout receiver Tim Patrick suffered a season-ending knee injury during team drills on Tuesday.
An MRI revealed a torn ACL in his right knee, a source confirmed.
“A guy like Tim who is such an amazing leader who has done everything you asked. It breaks your heart because you love him," coach Nathaniel Hackett said.
Patrick made a leaping catch down the right sideline over cornerback Essang Bassey on a pass from Russell Wilson. As Patrick came to the ground he crumpled and grabbed at his leg. Practice stopped and teammates surrounded him.
"It shows with guys huddled around him. Coaches usually flip it around and keep it going. That's the longest I've seen a practice get held for the guys to show their support," safety Kareem Jackson said. "I tell him all the time he's the heart and soul of that receiver room. It's definitely tough."
After a few minutes down, Patrick left the field on a cart and needed help to enter the locker room, followed closely by general manager George Paton.
#Broncos Hackett said it was knee injury for @Tpstreets. Don’t know extent. “It breaks your heart. The worst part of this game is when things like that happen.” Coach said you support the player first and then it creates opportunity. RB Crockett also has knee injury. #Denver7 pic.twitter.com/VamZaqRXsV— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) August 2, 2022
Patrick caught 53 passes for 734 yards and five touchdowns as the team’s most reliable threat last season. He had 51 receptions for 742 yards and six touchdowns in 2020. Patrick signed a three-year, $34 million contract extension last season with $18.5 million guaranteed.
Patrick is wildly popular among teammates for his edge and intensity. Cut multiple times, he carved out a special teams role before emerging as standout wideout.
"You know it hurts. You see a guy who works his butt off all season," said teammate Courtland Sutton, who tore his ACL and missed almost all of the 2020 season. "His preparation is second to none. We will be there for him."
In Patrick's absence, the Broncos need someone to step up. First, Jerry Jeudy must realize his potential. The former first-round draft pick failed to score a touchdown last season, but has shown a better fit with Russell Wilson in Hackett's offense this training camp. Also, K.J. Hamler hopes to return for the season opener after missing 14 games a year ago with a dislocated hip and a torn left ACL.
As for others who could see more reps, the list includes Kendall Hinton, Seth Williams, Tyrie Cleveland, Travis Fulgham and rookies Brandon Johnson, Kaden Davis and Montrell Washington, who capped Tuesday's practice with a walk-off touchdown pass from Brett Rypien. The Broncos kept five receivers last season, meaning there's likely one spot up for grabs if Washington secures the punt return job.
Still, it's impossible to overstate the loss of Patrick. He's a self-made standout, who brings toughness and leadership to the field and locker room.
"It's sad man because I watched the work he put in this offseason. He was working out three times a day," running back Melvin Gordon said. "I just know how much he was grinding. He wanted to be great."
Reserve running back Damarea Crockett also tore his ACL in Tuesday's practice. Crockett played in three games last season and proved valuable insurance on special teams.
"I never ask God why. I just roll with the punches because I know it's his will not mine," Crockett wrote on Twitter. "I'll be here in Denver rooting for my guys."
This marks the third consecutive season the Broncos have lost a starting receiver to injury. Sutton tore his ACL in a Week 2 loss at Pittsburgh as he tackled Joe Haden on an interception return. And K.J. Hamler landed awkwardly after making an acrobatic catch against the New York Jets in Week 3.
"You hate to see any teammate go down," Sutton said. "Tim knows we've got his back. He's going to be good."