The Denver Broncos defense just took a major hit. Per Ian Rapoport, inside linebacker Josey Jewell has suffered a serious pectoral injury that will keep him out for the rest of the 2021 season.

This is a massive blow for the Broncos because Jewell was one of their starting linebackers. He left Sunday’s game early after registering three tackles, with Justin Strnad replacing him.

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Jewell was a fourth-round pick by the Broncos in 2018 and became a regular starter in 2020, featuring in all 16 games. Across his first few seasons in the NFL, he’s totaled 217 tackles, eight pass breakups, and 3.5 sacks. Strnad meanwhile is basically considered a rookie because he was injured for all of last season. He will likely pair alongside Alexander Johnson at inside linebacker for the remainder of the season.

The Broncos also have another option in rookie Baron Browning, but he’s played mostly on special teams to this point. Vic Fangio will definitely not be pleased with Jewell’s injury, but there are enough other players who should be able to step up and get the job done.

Denver is off to a good start, winning both of their games so far after beating the Jaguars on Sunday. The defense has allowed just 26 points combined as well, which is definitely promising.