ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - The Denver Broncos emerged from their latest loss in need of yet another change at quarterback and facing two games without cornerback Aqib Talib, who was suspended for his fight with Michael Crabtree.
The Broncos also are facing the prospect of the longest starting streak among defensive linemen coming to a halt and losing another one of their tone-setters on defense.
Trevor Siemian emerged from the revolving door of Broncos quarterbacks as the starter again following Paxton Lynch’s dismal 2017 debut that ended with him in a walking boot and crying on the sideline.
Coach Vance Joseph said Lynch will miss two to four weeks with a high right ankle sprain he sustained Sunday in Denver’s 21-14 loss at Oakland .
So, Siemian gets his starting job back when the Broncos (3-8) visit the Miami Dolphins (4-7).
Nose tackle Domata Peko is facing the prospect of missing a game for the first time since 2009. His 123-game streak is in jeopardy because of a sprained left MCL that Joseph said will sideline him a week or two.
“That’s for normal people,” said Peko, holding out hope because he’s a fast healer. “I’m doing everything I can. I’m going straight from here to the doctor’s office to get some rehab going.”
The Broncos were waiting on MRI results after defensive end Derek Wolfe left the game with a neck injury.
“Our concern is for his health and well-being. If it’s not right, we’ll shut him down,” Joseph said. “We’re going to be smart with that being a neck.”
Joseph declined to discipline Talib himself after his star defender got into a fight with Crabtree that resulted in his ejection after just five snaps.
“Now, if the league steps in and they hand something down, that’s their decision,” Joseph said hours before the suspension was announced Monday night. “Internally, no.”
Joseph said he’d prefer his players walk away from altercations but understands once punches are thrown, “you can’t blame a man for defending himself.”
Talib gave an impassioned plea in the locker room several hours before being informed of his two-game ban.
“I hope the league sees basically how it started and sees I didn’t come out there to fight and wrestle with him,” Talib said.
Talib’s replacement, rookie Brendan Langley, surrendered a touchdown pass and a critical third-down completion that kept Denver from getting a shot at tying the game.
“It obviously hurt us down the stretch,” Joseph said.
Talib watched the game from the visitor’s locker room.
“We definitely had a chance at the end,” Talib said. “Things didn’t go our way at the end. That’s kind of been the story of our season.”
Along with the quarterback carousel.
Lynch was promoted to starter last week after Brock Osweiler threw too many incompletions in relief of Siemian, who threw too many interceptions.
He took all the starters’ snaps with new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave in charge but his debut lasted just three quarters before he retreated to the sideline with his second significant injury of the season and having thrown for just 41 yards. He cried on the bench a week after running back C.J. Anderson sobbed in the locker room following his fourth-quarter fumble that led to a loss to the Bengals.
The former first-round draft pick threw an end zone interception early on and in Joseph’s words, “it went downhill for him after that,” with four sacks, a paltry passer rating of 38.4 - by far the worst among his three NFL starts - and yet another injury to go with the sprained throwing shoulder that sidelined him for the first two months.
Siemian, who was inactive two weeks ago and didn’t take any snaps with the starters as the backup last week, completed 11 of 21 passes for 149 yards, two TDs and a 107.0 passer rating.
“That speaks to Trevor as a person to bounce back through adversity and come back and play a decent football game in the fourth quarter for us,” Joseph said. “I was excited to watch him go on two long drives and give us two touchdowns.”
With his team mired in its longest skid in a half century, Joseph demurred when asked if he feels he’s on the hot seat himself.
“It’s pressure every week whether you’re a coordinator or a head coach. It’s not different. You want to win the football games and we haven’t done that,” Joseph said. “The pressure is accurate. I understand that and it’s expected when you’re not winning football games. I’m OK with that.”
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