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Jason Hunter tears triceps, leaves Broncos' D-line thin

The Denver Broncos held the Chicago Bears to 36 rushing yards in the preseason opener, a positive development for a defensive line that loomed as a suspect unit entering the season.

Tuesday's injury to starting defensive end Jason Hunter puts a damper on the festivities. Hunter, who moved ahead of Robert Ayers in the Broncos' lineup two weeks ago, suffered a triceps tear that could keep him off the field for up to two months and might end his season, The Denver Post reported.

Hunter was injured while slamming into a blocking sled during drills, the newspaper reported. The injury likely shifts Ayers or rookie Derek Wolfe into the first wave of lineman in Denver's 4-3 base scheme, but Hunter will be missed. The seventh-year NFL veteran has been a spirited member of the defense during training camp, constantly jawing with offensive linemen and drawing praise from new coordinator Jack Del Rio.

The Broncos' D-line already was a concern. The performance against the Bears was encouraging, because nothing will help Peyton Manning's transition more than a defense that wins the time of possession and prevents opponents from grinding it out on the ground. So far, so good, but Denver can't afford more bad luck on the injury front.

UPDATE: The Associated Press confirmed that Hunter suffered a torn triceps Tuesday that will sideline him at least two months and could cost him the entire season.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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