ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Denver’s celebration of a big win Sunday was dampened a bit Monday with the announcement that tight end Jeff Heuerman is done for the season.
Heuerman suffered three broken ribs and a bruised lung in the Broncos’ 24-17 win over Pittsburgh and will miss the rest of the year.
Heuerman is the third tight end to suffer a season-ending injury. Jake Butt, who was emerging as the team’s top pass catcher at that position, tore his ACL in September and rookie Troy Fumagali went on injured reserve before the start of the regular season.
“Obviously, Heuerman is a big loss,” head coach Vance Joseph told reporters on Monday. “We’ve lost three guys in that room so far with Butt, Fumagali and now Jeff. He was having a great year, he’s a great leader for that room, and so he will be missed.”
Heuerman, in his third year out of Ohio State, finishes with 31 receptions for 281 yards and two touchdowns. He had three catches for 44 yards against the Steelers.
Heuerman’s injury means rookie Matt LaCosse will most likely get a bulk of the action at tight end. LaCosse had an impact Sunday, catching four passes for 34 yards and his first career touchdown.
He has gotten more playing time when Butt went down for the year. The Broncos could sign tight end Temarrick Hemingway from the practice squad to add depth to the position. Second-year player Brian Parker is also on the active roster.
“We’ve got some options there,” Joseph said of Hemingway. “(General manager) John (Elway) is researching it right now trying to find the best option for our football team. We’ll see what happens later in the week, but he’s definitely an option.”
Joseph said linebacker Shaquil Barrett suffered a torn hip flexor muscle and is week-to-week and cornerback Tramaine Brock has bruised ribs but is day-to-day.
ROOM TO GROW: The Broncos have played three games since Demaryius Thomas was traded to Houston and the wide receiver is still second on the team in catches. Rookie Courtland Sutton has stepped into the starting lineup and has shown flashes of game-breaking talent but he struggled against the Steelers.
“He didn’t play great on Sunday. He had a couple of drops. I wouldn’t say he’s pressing, but he wants to make plays,” Joseph said. “He wasn’t great, and he would tell you that. He’s got to keep working. Being an every-down player is different than being a part-time player. He has to continue to work his craft in route running and catching the ball and blocking in assignments. He’ll get there, he’s a special talent. It takes time sometimes.”
WRONG PLACE, RIGHT TIME: Nose Tackle Shelby Harris said after Sunday’s game he was in the wrong position when he made his game-saving interception with 1:03 left. It didn’t matter to Joseph, who was just glad he came up with a big play.
“He wasn’t, OK,” Joseph said with a laugh. “He’s a zero nose in that defense and obviously the pass rush part of that defense is not important. He’s hitting the center and he just pops. He gets his hands up and the ball was there. Obviously, he could’ve been a little shorter, not as deep, but that’s his job.”