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Josey Jewell possibly lost for season with pectoral injury

Linebacker hurt making special teams tackle in win vs. Jags
Broncos Jaguars Football
Posted at 10:44 AM, Sep 20, 2021

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- On first glance, it appeared another bold stroke in a first half masterpiece.

Inside linebacker Josey Jewell created havoc in his first 21 snaps against Jacksonville, logging three tackles and two for a loss. When he made a solid tackle on punt coverage with 7:34 remaining in the first half, celebrating with a flex after bringing down Jamal Agnew, it made sense.

Jewell was all over the field. Until he left to the locker room moments later.

Jewell winced and moved his left upper body gingerly after the hit, and never returned to the game. Monday brought fear that he could be lost for the season with a pectoral muscle injury. The former Iowa star underwent an MRI, leaving the team bracing for the worst. The expectation is the muscle is torn based on Jewell's conversation with teammates.

Justin Strnad talked with Jewell this morning, and is prepared to step up for his friend.

"It's not ideal how you want an opportunity to come. The last couple of months me and Josey have grown pretty close . He's a great player, a great teammate and really one of the big leaders on our defense," Strnad said. "To lose him is obviously a big loss for this team."

It would continue a wicked stretch of injuries for the Broncos. They have lost five starters in their first two wins -- outside linebacker Bradley Chubb (left ankle, re-injured Sunday in his debut, no timetable), receiver Jerry Jeudy (high ankle sprain, likely out roughly five more weeks), cornerback Ronald Darby (strained hamstring, out at least two more weeks) and right guard Graham Glasgow (irregular heartbeat, might return Sunday).

"Those are our brothers, our dawgs. You hate to see injuries happen to anyone, especially a teammate. But I believe in Justin and Dream Killer (Malik Reed) is still here," said defensive end Shelby Harris, who wore a brace on his left wrist, but said it is fine. "We have more depth."

Jewell posted seven tackles and forced a fumble in 82 snaps this season, off to the best start of his career. His anticipated absence means inside linebacker Alexander Johnson will relay defensive signals and moves second-year player Strnad into the lineup. Coach Vic Fangio had no reservations about playing Jewell on special teams, saying they were looking to fortify the unit, and explaining All-Pro NaVorro Bowman did it for three years for him in San Francisco.

Strnad received a primer against the Jaguars. He played 23 snaps, finishing second on the team with five tackles. He also posted a big hit on kickoff return coverage.

Strnad, who missed his rookie season with a wrist injury, received valuable experience in training camp. He filled in with the first-team for roughly ten days as Jewell was sidelined with a groin injury, impressing the coaches.

"They were definitely helpful and valuable reps with me being pretty much a rookie," said Strnad, who is smaller than Jewell, but brings unique speed to the position. "The biggest difference is adjusting to the speed of the game. Everybody is good. I just want to help this team any way I can."

The first two weeks continue to test the roster's elasticity. With Jewell sidelined, Baron Browning, a third round pick in the spring, will be counted on to step up, too. The linebacker played in the final two preseason games after missing most of the offseason and the first two weeks of training camp with a leg injury. Browning, a former Ohio State standout, has played 14 snaps in the first two games, all on special teams.