DENVER (KXRM) — The Denver Broncos already expect to have one of the best defenses in the NFL. With Mike Purcell’s expected return to the lineup soon, he could be the missing link to an elite defensive run game.
Purcell suffered damage to the middle part of his foot during the Broncos’ 43-16 Week 7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last season. The Lisfranc injury required two offseason surgeries: one to stabilize the foot, and another to remove the plate and screws required to do so.
“I got a lot more mobility after they took (the plate) out. It was pretty stiff,” Purcell said. “I didn’t know it looked like till they took it out. They wouldn’t let me keep it. I was going to make a chain out of it. That would’ve been pretty cool.”
When Purcell was in the lineup, opposing teams averaged just 3.7 rushing yards per attempt. Following the season-ending injury, that number jumped to 4.6 yards per carry.
Then, just four days after the start of training camp this year, the Colorado native sprained his ankle, putting into question just how healthy he would be for the Broncos’ regular-season opener against the New York Giants.
“There was a bit of a scare,” Purcell said. “I think with the roll of an ankle, in hindsight, it was almost good it happened, in my thoughts. My ankle was mobile from the surgeries, but that tweaked it and opened it up, and I feel good now.”
Purcell, who sat out the Broncos’ 33-6 preseason win over the Minnesota Vikings, is hoping to play in a significant amount of snaps during Denver’s second preseason game Saturday against the Seattle Seahawks.
“We got him some reps in Minnesota in the two days of practice and I thought he looked good,” Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said. “I haven’t seen him favoring his ankle at all or his ankle bothering him.”
“I feel really good,” Purcell said. “Now it’s time to get some game reps in, and that’s the only thing. I’ve done practice and everything, joint practices against other people, and I feel good.
“I’m excited to get back out there and get some game reps in and I treat every game the same. Preseason or not. I have the same butterflies as rookie-year game-one versus if it was the Super Bowl. I’d have the same butterflies.”