Denver Broncos tight end Jeff Heuerman is out for the season after breaking three ribs and bruising a lung against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, head coach Vance Joseph announced.
The injury leaves Denver without its top two tight ends, after receiving specialist Jake Butt tore his ACL in practice after three games. Rookie fifth-rounder Troy Fumagalli is also on IR after having sports hernia surgery in March.
Heuerman, who turned 26 on Saturday, started 10 of 11 games this season, catching 31 passes for 281 yards and two scores while serving as the team's top blocking tight end. He has played 76.9 percent of the offensive snaps (555), more than triple any other tight end (Matt LaCosse, 181) on the roster.
A third-round pick in 2015, Heuerman missed his entire rookie season with a torn ACL, plus six additional games over the last two seasons due to various injuries. He is set to become a free agent in March.
LaCosse, who had three catches for 34 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, will become the starter. He has 14 catches for 171 yards and the one score this season after entering the year with three career catches.
Joseph also announced outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett is week-to-week. Joseph called Barrett's injury torn rib cartilage, but multiple outlets report it is actually a hip-flexor issue.
The third edge rusher behind Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, Barrett has three sacks and six QB hits on just 236 snaps (31.5 percent) this season, while playing 67.6 percent of the special-teams snaps. Shane Ray is expected to get more work in his absence.
Joseph added that cornerback Tramaine Brock is day-to-day with a bruise rib.
--Field Level Media
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