HEADLINES

In wake of Jewell’s injury, Strnad finds his number called

Sep 20, 2021, 4:51 PM | Updated: 5:04 pm
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 19: Linebacker Justin Strnad #40 of the Denver Broncos tackles Ja...
(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

In terms of earning the starting nod due to an injury, Justin Strnad believes it’s “not ideal.”

But in the “next man up” NFL, it doesn’t really matter if the circumstances are ideal. If your number is called, you better be ready.

With Denver Broncos inside linebacker Josey Jewell likely lost for the season with a pectoral injury, Strnad — who called himself “essentially a rookie” — may have just had his number called.

“It’s unfortunate that — I hate using the term ‘next man up,’ but that’s kind of just how it is,” Broncos defensive end Shelby Harris told the media at UCHealth Training Center on Monday. “Those are our brothers; those are our dogs. You hate to see the injuries happen really to anyone, especially your teammates.”

Harris said he enjoys how Strnad “analyzes the game,” saying he believes the second-year inside linebacker is “ready to take the next step.”

“He just needed an opportunity, and this is his opportunity,” Harris said.

Broncos head coach Vic Fangio lauded Strnad for doing a “nice job” in replacing Jewell in the victory Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, suggesting that may be the direction the team goes at the position.

“I was pleased with the way he played,” Fangio said. “He was far from perfect. There’s a lot of things he could do better. But moving forward, now that he knows he may be the guy if Josey is out, he’ll get more practice and be more mentally ready for it. Hopefully he’ll play well.”

Speaking to the media Monday, Strnad lamented losing his teammate to injury, saying Jewell and he had “grown pretty close” in the past few months.

“He’s a great player, great teammate, and really one of the big leaders on our defense, so to lose him is obviously a big loss for this team,” Strnad said.

But Strnad made clear he’s “prepared to help this team in any way possible.”

“We have a good thing rolling right now. We’re 2-0, and I’m just here to do my job,” Strnad said. “Whatever the coaches need me to do, I’m here to do it, and I think I’m capable of doing all those things.”

As for who’ll take over the signal calling on defense, Fangio said he did not know if it will be Strnad or Alexander Johnson, who took the calls on Sunday when Jewell went down.

But if the young linebacker is called upon to give the defense its directions, Fangio said he believes Strnad’s up to the task.

“Yeah. If we need him to, yeah,” Fangio said.

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