CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Garett Bolles walked out of the locker room Sunday on crutches with his left foot in a gray boot. The left tackle's attitude remained upbeat, though he will miss time.
A best-case scenario unfolded Monday afternoon. An MRI revealed a bone bruise of his lower left leg, leaving him likely sidelined at least a week, if not not more, but not indefinitely. An X-ray during the game was negative, and the MRI provided comfort that there was no fracture in the lower left leg.
"We dodged a bullet in my opinion," coach Vance Joseph said.
The Broncos play at Buffalo and then host the Oakland Raiders before the bye. It would allow for three weeks' rest before returning to game action. However, Bolles' talked optimistically with teammates Monday about returning sooner. Bone bruises, according to Dr. Luga Podesta, a sports medicine and regenerative orthopedic specialist at Bluetail Medical Group, can initially treated like fractures to facilitate healing. A player can respond quickly once the swelling in the area diminishes.
Bolles grabbed his lower left leg in the third quarter when he was leg whipped on a running play. Bolles wiped away tears as he boarded the cart, received encouragement from teammates and left the field. There was initial fear of a serious injury. But the MRI revealed the bone bruise.
Bolles, the team's first round draft pick this year, won the starting job early in training camp and was progressing well. He has impressed teammates with his maturity and intensity. With Bolles likely out at least this week, the Broncos will be forced to shuffle up front.
Allen Barbre replaced Bolles at left tackle and is a candidate to start. He has played tackle during his 10-year career, but more on the right side. The Broncos acquired him before training camp to compete with Max Garcia for the left guard spot. Barbre was viewed as utility player on game day.
"That's been the plan for the last two weeks, dressing Barbre and playing him some at left guard and if we had an injury with the tackle position, left or right, he would slide in," coach Vance Joseph said. "He's played most of his career at tackle. So he was our best option (Sunday)."
Joseph declined to reveal who would start if Bolles is sidelined, though Barbre is in the mix.
The Broncos have several swing linemen with tackle experience, including Donald Stephenson, Connor McGovern and Billy Turner. They also must monitor Menelik Watson's play at right tackle. He has struggled in the first two games.