Friday, October 15, 2021

Broncos Confident LB Justin Stranad Is Ready for First NFL Debut, Extended Opportunity After Josie Jewell’s Season-Ending Injury

With inside linebacker Josie Jewell for the season with a pectoral injury, Justin Stranad has been cast in the role of Jewel and will make his first NFL debut on Sunday against the Jets.

But according to Von Miller’s scouting report, the Broncos are not expecting the situation to deteriorate. The All-Pro is based on what Stranad saw out of training at the latter’s brief training camp as a rookie in 2020, when Stranad was “on fire” before sustaining a wrist injury at the end of the season.

“Justin is a big, athletic inside linebacker, and he can cover, he can play runs,” Miller said. “With him (starting inside fellow backer Alexander Johnson), we have two big linebackers there.

“No one will be able to fill what Josie did for us. He’s just smart enough, and he can protect a runaway from behind. He can do all kinds of (coverage) stuff for us. But it’s Justin’s turn, and that’s just the league — the Next Man Up mentality. We can’t replace Josie, but we have to play to Justin’s strength and I feel very comfortable with Justin there.

At 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, Stranad is leaner and less compact and muscular than the typical NFL inside linebacker. But Stranad’s defensive coordinator at Wake Forest, Lyle Hemphill, said that body type will serve him well once he’s off to the pro game.

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