Aug 17, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe (95) leads the Broncos out of the tunnel during the opening ceremonies prior to the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated Denver 40-10. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Depth Chart: Defense
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Left Defensive End
With Derek Wolfe back healthy he re-takes his spot as the starter. Malik Jackson is a quality depth player and will be great in the rotation along the DL. Recently signed Will Pericak comes in as the #3 LDE with Greg Latta as the #4. A big reason behind this may lie in the fact Latta has been on the sidelines dealing with an injury.
Last year’s first round pick, Sylvester Williams, has claimed the starting spot. As the season went on last year he got better. Also with DT’s it normally takes a year to adjust to NFL life. Kevin Vickerson is coming back from an injury and looks to be regaining his pre-injury form. Mitch Unrein is on the roster bubble, being the FB may not be enough to save him, practice squad is also not an option. Recently signed Cody Larsen is hurt by the fact he was signed into training camp and is part of one of the deepest defensive line units.
With Terrance Knighton and Marvin Austin at the top, the Broncos are going to have a fierce front. Knighton exploded onto the scene last year, his first with the Broncos and from the sound of it Austin will do the same. Behind them lies Sione Fua, who was signed last year when injuries occurred. His days in Denver are dwindling.
Right Defensive End
The final member of the big trio, DeMarcus Ware has been a major addition to the Broncos defensive line, both on and off the field. A healthy Quanterus Smith backing him up is no shocker. Whiel Ware was out dealing with an injury, Smith stepped in and was huge. In those same regards, Kenny Anunike was as well, but being part of a deep unit hurts him. If the Broncos keep a fifth DE it will be Anunike now, but odds are that they don’t keep him and get him on the PS. Hall Davis and Chase Vaughn are the odd men out. They are part of the deep unit and haven’t really stood out.
Will Von Miller getting healthy he gets his starting position back, but to start the season he may be limited. In which case it’s a good thing the Broncos have what looks to be a quality backup with Lerentee McCray. Miller’s recovery has kept him limited, which has paved the way for McCray to get some work in with the reps. He took the opportunity and is running with it. Shaquil Barrett has been pretty much quiet during training camp, but his placement as #3 SLB comes from who is ahead of him. Rounding out the position is Jerrell Harris. There has been little reported about him. He is at most looking at a practice squad position.
Finally Nate Irving is getting the shot as the MLB for this defense. He was moved to SLB last year where he started in place of a suspended and hurt Von Miller. He brings his experience to the “mike” position. Behind him is rookie Lamin Barrow who has grown every day according to defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. It may be a long shot, but Barrow may compete for the starting position. Unless the Broncos decide to keep a third “mike” Steven Johnson is on his way out. Johnson has been a force on special teams, which is his chance to stick around. L.J. Fortt would have to really stand out over the next few weeks to have a shot at the roster. Practice squad is more likely.
No surprise in Danny Trevathan being the top WLB. He was a stable force for the Broncos last season. Backing him up is Brandon Marshall, no not that Brandon Marshall he is still on the Chicago Bears. Anyways, Marshall has seen a lot of time with the first unit, especially in sub packages as the second cover LB. The surprise comes from Jamar Chaney being ahead of drafted rookie Corey Nelson. Neither are likely to make the roster, but they are fighting for a practice squad position.
Aquib Talib is the starter and Chris Harris will be the other starting CB. Odds are in sub packages and a third CB is brought it, Harris will kick inside as the “slot” CB with Kayvon Webster manning the other outside position. Also Webster may see more time than Harris early on with Harris recovering from the ACL. First round pick Bradley Roby has had a very up and down training camp, so no shock to see him as the #4 CB. Tony Carter has had a rough training camp as well, and is likely on his way out unless he somehow turns it around. If you had not heard, Omar Bolden has been reverted back to cornerback where he has a better shot at the roster than being at safety. Since his reversion back he has done a great job.
Louis Young and Jerome Murphy have had some shining practices. Young, however, has been hampered by a groin injury, but he should be back in time for the game this Thursday. Young may have a chance at the roster, but it is dependent on the Broncos carrying six CBs. If they don’t, he, Murphy along with Jordan Sullen are likely fighting for the practice squad. Odds are the Broncos don’t keep three CBs on the eight man PS, so there will be a fight. At most two make it. I would like to see the Broncos carry six CBs, Young being the last, with Murphy and Sullen on the PS. But I am obviously in no part of the Broncos decision-making process.
Nothing surprising in the first two units at safety. T.J. Ward and Rahim Moore are the starters with Quinton Carter and Duke Ihenacho backing them up. John Boyett has been dealing with an injury, but when he comes back he will have to fight hard to try to steal a spot from Ihenacho. Ihenacho has not had the best showing, but there is no competition for his spot now. David Bruton stays as the #5 S, which is no shock as he is the teams special teams ace and struggles mightily on defense. Even last year when the Broncos were suffering injuries, they rarely used Bruton and instead brought in someone else. The final safety, Charles Mitchell, is fighting for a practice squad spot, but even that may be out of reach.