Broncos lose starting DE Vance Walker to ACL tear

The Denver Broncos have lost a starter on the league's top-ranked defense.

Veteran defensive end Vance Walker will likely miss the entire 2016 season after tearing his right ACL in Monday morning's practice, the team announced.

Walker was expected to nail down a starting role as the replacement for 2015 breakout star Malik Jackson, who signed a mega contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars in March.

"We think the world of Vance and he was having a great camp," coach Gary Kubiak said, via the team's official website. "We'll support him through his recovery, and he'll come back stronger than ever."

With Walker out of the picture, the Broncos will turn to former Texans defensive end Jared Crick, former Colts veteran Billy Winn and second-round draft pick Adam Gotsis alongside Sylvester Williams and Derek Wolfe on the defensive line.

Of the three options, Gotsis offers the highest ceiling. Fully healthy after tearing his ACL last Halloween, the former Georgia Tech star picked up a pair of quarterback hurries in the preseason opener.

Credit general manager John Elway with compiling enough quality depth to withstand the loss of several key cogs on a dominant defense that carried the Broncos to Super Bowl 50.

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