ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Nathaniel Hackett’s No. 1 goal for the preseason is to enter Week 1 healthy.

With three weeks until opening day, Hackett’s goal has already taken multiple hits.

On Saturday, in the team’s second preseason game against the Buffalo Bills, Denver had numerous players go down.

Michael Ojemudia dislocated his elbow. A week before, Jonas Griffith suffered the same injury. Fortunately for both, neither will require surgery. Unfortunately, it’s a four-to-six week injury, so Ojemudia will miss the team’s final preseason game and could be out for the start of the season.

Jonas, who has a one-week head start on Ojemudia in his recovery, is “coming along,” Hackett added. The starting inside linebacker did not practice on Monday, but was on the field wearing a significant brace and sleeve on his left arm.

Other players “coming along,” are Netane Muti (knee) and Tyree Cleveland (throat).

There was one more dislocation in Buffalo. Tackle Casey Tucker’s dislocated toe is being evaluated. Hackett described the injury as “fascinating” and something he’s never seen before. Tucker told Mike Klis after the game, his toe was sticking up like a unicorn.

“Hopefully, he’ll be alright,” Hackett added.

After suffering a knee injury in practice, the team designated Marquiss Spencer as waived/injured.

It wasn’t all bad on Monday. Hackett did deliver positive news to start the week.

After hurting his ankle in pregame on Saturday, Sam Martin is expected to punt in the preseason finale against the Vikings. Martin is still in a punting competition against Corlis Waitman.

K.J. Hamler not only practiced on Monday, but Hackett is “looking for” the speedster to do full-speed team reps this week.

“We definitely want him to get out there. I know he is chomping at the bit,” Hackett said. “I mean, he’s one of those guys, you tell him he can’t do something, he’s not a very happy camper. And that’s what you want. You want the guys to want to get out there and want to push themselves. So I’m excited for him to get out here for both individuals, some more team reps, just everything to start incorporating him and seeing what he can do. For me, I just remember him from his college experience and he was a good player then. We want to take advantage of that now and see where he’s at.”

Hackett added depending on how Hamler feels, he could get “some reps” in the final preseason game.

“We’re going to communicate and make sure that he gets what he needs to get ready,” Hackett said.

The team is still going to take it slow with Greg Dulcich, who already suffered a setback trying to return from a hamstring injury. Hackett said the team is “hopeful” to get him back soon, but wants to avoid a second setback. On Monday, Dulcich was rehabbing on the side field.

Billy Turner was scheduled to practice this week, according to Hackett. However, he was not spotted at Monday’s practice.

When pressed if Turner will be the starting right tackle if he’s healthy come Week 1, Hackett said the team first needs to see if he’s healthy. With Calvin Anderson’s recent shaky play, all indications would point to Turner taking that role if healthy.

One player that won’t be in the mix to be the starting right tackle Week 1 is Tom Compton as he’ll start the season on the PUP.

“He’s continually working through his back. He’s another guy, we’re so lucky that we’re going to be able to have him later on in the season,” Hackett added about the 6-foot-5 tackle. “He brings so much veteran presence. He’s great in the meeting rooms with all of those guys. We’ve got to be sure to get him back the right way.”

In order to keep as many starters healthy, the team will stick with the same plan for the final preseason game of playing mostly backups. Hackett said fans will understand the plan of sitting starters in the preseason “more when we get all the way to Week 17.”

“We want to see them in real games,” Hackett added.

Until then, it’s about staying as healthy as possible.


Zac Stevens was born and raised in Denver, went to the University of Denver and now covers the Denver Broncos. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from DU in 2014, Zac worked for the Cleveland Browns as a remote scout. He then jumped straight into the journalism industry at the beginning of 2016 covering the reigning world-champion Broncos and joined DNVR soon after. Catch him on Twitter @ZacStevensDNVR and daily on the DNVR Broncos podcast as the co-host.