It's been quite the season for the Denver Broncos. The team has tried desperately to scrape together wins in a disappointing 2020 campaign and although they were able to land their fifth on Sunday, at the expense of the Carolina Panthers, they got terrible news after the game. Duke Dawson, one of the team's key pieces in the secondary at this point in the season, was carted off in Charlotte and won't return this season. The 25-year-old reportedly suffered a torn ACL against the Panthers, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, and must now focus on surgery and rehabilitation for a 2021 return.
Additionally, he suffered a torn LCL and a sprained MCL, making for a much more lengthy and intense rehabilitation to come.
A former second-round pick of the New England Patriots in 2018, Dawson won a Super Bowl under Bill Belichick, but not on the field. He was placed on injured reserve in September 2018 with a hamstring injury and activated in November, but didn't appear in a game for the Patriots that season. Belichick would go onto trade Dawson to the Broncos in 2019 along with a seventh-round pick in exchange for a sixth-round pick. He logged three starts and was active in 14 games last season, becoming a viable rotational piece for head coach Vic Fangio in the process and posting 19 combined tackles and a fumble recovery. Active for 12 games in 2020, he's started in one game but saw his snap count increase recently in a big way.
Having played double digit snaps in only one game this season before going from zero to 20 reps (33%) in Week 13 against the Kansas City Chiefs -- on the upswing to end the season prior to his season having now ended. Dawson is under contract through the 2021 season so, barring a change of heart in Denver, he'll have a shot at returning to finish what he started with the Broncos.