Key man for quarterback Peyton Manning sidelined with foot injury.
Peyton Manning’s primary blindside blocker, Denver Broncos offensive tackle Ryan Clady, was put on injured reserve for the remainder of the NFL season with a left foot injury.
The Broncos announced that Clady suffered a torn Lisfranc joint, an injury where his middle toes meet the rest of his foot, against the New York Giants in a 41-23 victory on Sunday.
Clady will need surgery, sidelining the three-time Pro Bowler for the final 14 games of the 2013 campaign and forcing reserve Chris Clark to step into the starting role of protecting the back of star quarterback Manning, whose nine touchdown passes in two games lead the NFL, as does the Denver scoring attack with 90 points in two triumphs.
“You’re not going to replace him,” Broncos offensive line coach Dave Magazu said of Clady. “But Chris Clark did a great job all spring and in the preseason, so he’s had plenty of work. It’s not like he’s going in unprepared or not knowing what’s going on. So everybody should feel comfortable, let’s go with the mentality next guy up and let’s go to work.”
Clark, who has made only six NFL starts, signed a two-year contract extension on Monday as the Broncos began looking at Clady to analyze the extent of his injury.
The Broncos also signed eight-year NFL veteran tackle Winston Justice on Wednesday. Justice has made 43 starts in 59 career appearances.
Clady, who signed a five-year contract worth $57.5 million with the Broncos in July, has not missed a game in six NFL seasons and Monday’s game against Oakland will mark the first time the Broncos have played without Clady since the 2007 regular-season finale.
Clady, 27, allowed an NFL-low one sack last season among tackles who started every game. In 2011, he helped the Broncos lead the NFL in rushing with a club record 164.5 yards a game.
The Broncos’ offensive line had already lost centers Dan Koppen and J.D. Walton for the year due to pre-season injuries, forcing reserve guard Manny Ramirez into the center position in front of Manning.