CENTENNIAL, Colo. – Almost a year to the date that he tore his right ACL, Broncos receiver Tim Patrick ruptured his left Achilles, a source confirmed, sidelining him for the second straight season.
The 29-year-old Patrick now faces uncertainty about his career with the Broncos.
It happened quickly. The veteran receiver took one step off the line in 7-on-7 drills, went down, threw his helmet and screamed an expletive.
Quarterback Russell Wilson and Courtland Sutton talked to Patrick as trainers tended to him.
Patrick left on a cart and entered the locker room on crutches, favoring his left leg.
"Oh my gosh. I think especially with a veteran like him. He's so respected," Payton said. "When I got hired here he was one of the guys I just saw everyday because he was rehabbing an inujury. It makes it difficult."
Payton admitted it was tough on a number of levels. Patrick was aiming for a bounceback, and Payton had gotten to know him since he saw him everyday in the offseason as he rehabbed his right knee.
Patrick was sorely missed last season after tearing his right ACL on a pass down the sideline during an Aug. 2 practice – also the fifth day of training camp. He has forged as a reputation as the heartbeat of the receiver room because of his intensity and work ethic.
"It's tough break for us a team, obviously when you see something like that," All-Pro cornerback Pat Surtain II said. "He's such a great player and a great leader. It sucks. I wish him the best."
Patrick emerged as a central piece of the Broncos' offense in 2020. He caught 104 passes for 1,476 yards and 11 touchdowns over two seasons from 2020-21 before missing last year.
Patrick signed a three-year, $34 million extension during the 2021 season, including $18.5 million guaranteed.
The Broncos boast a deep receiver room anchored by Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton. Patrick's absence creates an opportunity for Brandon Johnson, who has had a strong early camp, and Marquez Callaway. Rookie Marvin Mims Jr. also returned to practice after dealing with a hamstring injury.
But watching the energy nosedive after Patrick's injury speaks to the difficulty of replacing him.