As unlucky as the Broncos have been this year with injuries–especially on the offensive line–it was only magnified by the fact that the team would be without star pass rusher Von Miller for the first six games of the year.
The Broncos played their first five games without Champ Bailey, and their sixth game without both Robert Ayers and Wesley Woodyard. The linebacker group has been shuffled around a heck of a lot this season, but things are finally starting to take shape for Denver.
Ayers and Woodyard both didn’t play against the Jaguars, but both returned to practice on Wednesday (in limited fashion). Both players are expected to play against the Colts on Sunday Night Football, giving the Broncos their normal starting defensive unit for the first time since the pre-season or training camp.
This will be huge for Denver and if they can stay healthy from here on out, this could be a unit that is playing its best ball at the end of the year.
No matter what happens on Sunday night, it’s going to be really exciting to see the Broncos’ first-team defense playing together with a clean bill of health. The defensive line will likely feature Derek Wolfe, Terrance Knighton, Kevin Vickerson, and Ayers/Shaun Phillips. Linebackers will be Miller, Woodyard, and Danny Trevathan. Defensive backs will be Bailey, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Rahim Moore, and Duke Ihenacho.
Up to this point, the Broncos’ defense hasn’t played great. They gave up 48 points to the Dallas Cowboys, and allowed Justin Blackmon to become everyone’s favorite fantasy football player. With a full complement of defensive stars, this group should significantly improve. We saw them single-handedly win games last season, absolutely dominating opponents. Going into this year, we all knew the unit would be better at least on paper, and now we finally get to see paper turned into real life.
It might not be the most welcome news for the Colts.