ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — DeMarcus Ware tweeted thanks for the well wishes Monday and said he couldn’t wait to get “back out there with my guys” following surgery on his broken right forearm.
Denver’s defensive captain will have a plate inserted into his arm Tuesday that will aid in the healing of the ulna bone, which broke when he slammed it into Von Miller’s right knee while they were trying to corral Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
He’s expected to miss four to five weeks.
“We know we’re going to get him back,” coach Gary Kubiak said Monday. “So, that’s very encouraging.”
His teammates also took the silver-lining view of the 34-year-old pass rusher’s latest injury.
“As long as he’s there in the end, man, that’s when we’re going to need him,” cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. “I mean of course, it’s going to make it harder for us to continue to dominate like we are on the edges, but at the end as long as we’ve got him coming at 100 percent at the end of the season, that’s the main thing.”
The Broncos (2-0), who visit Cincinnati (1-1) on Sunday, saw just how effective and disruptive a healthy Ware could be in the playoffs nine months ago.
After missing five games in 2015 with a bad back and easing his way into shape over the final month of the regular season, Ware collected a dozen quarterback hits , 3½ sacks, four tackles for loss and recovered a fumble.
That’s why the Broncos kept Ware off the field for most of the team’s offseason program, in hopes he’d stay healthy and have that kind of impact all season. The plan was working wonderfully through six quarters as Ware had two sacks, a tackle for loss and three more quarterback hits after transitioning to a situational pass rusher behind second-year pro Shane Ray.
Then, on the third snap of the second half Sunday against Indianapolis, Ware collided with Miller and broke his right ulna, one of two bones in the forearm.
The Broncos know they’ll miss Ware when they face the Bengals, Buccaneers, Falcons and Chargers over the next month, but Miller said maybe this will be good for his back, which is still bugging Ware. Harris reiterated the bigger picture is having a healthy Ware later on.
“Being able to have that extra anchor, that extra rusher that they fear out there, I mean, that definitely changes things,” Harris said. “But Shaq (Barrett) and Shane, they came in and played great. Dekoda (Watson), he played great in the preseason. So, it’s a good time to get those guys some more experience, and the key is to have D-Ware in the end.
“We want D-Ware in the playoffs coming 100 mph off the edge, rolling at the end of the season.”
The Broncos figure they’re also better able to withstand Ware’s absence this time. Ray and Barrett got almost all the snaps with the starters in the offseason while Miller was involved in a contract dispute and Ware was held out of all but the final few days of training camp.
Ray scooped up the loose ball when Miller stripped Luck in the closing minutes Sunday and returned it 15 yards for his first career touchdown, one that sealed a href=’Miller’s%20sack-strip%20leads%20Broncos%20past%20Colts%2034-20’Denver’s 34-20/a.
While the Broncos feel good about their depth and preparation at pass rusher, things get trickier on offense, where tight end Virgil Green and right tackle Donald Stephenson strained calves Sunday. Kubiak said Green is day to day, but Stephenson will miss at least the Bengals game.
“It’s not bad at all,” Stephenson said, noting a similar injury in training camp only sidelined him a week. “But you don’t want to rush back with it because it can be something that stays with you.”
The absences of Green and Stephenson were felt on offense as the Broncos kept stalling inside the Colts 35-yard line and allowed defenders to slice through and hit their running backs in the backfield.
Veteran John Phillips replaced Green on Sunday and Kubiak said second-year pro Jeff Heuerman is ready to make his NFL debut at Cincinnati if need be. Heuerman missed all of last season with a knee injury.
When Donaldson went out, the Broncos slid Michael Schofield from right guard to right tackle and inserted Darrion Weems into the lineup.
Another option is Ty Sambrailo, who missed most of training camp with a hyperextended right elbow but is ready to return to action.
Kubiak also said he hopes to have wide receiver Bennie Fowler (right elbow) available Sunday.
Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton .