Can the Broncos’ Defense Shut Down Gronk on Sunday?

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Oct 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris (25) tackles San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Steve Johnson (13) in the third quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Honorable Mention

First, cornerback Chris Harris Jr. probably won’t be asked to cover Rob Gronkowski too much. Bronco Country can expect Harris to be used sparingly on him.

While Harris is widely considered the Broncos best cornerback, it would be tough for him to match up with Gronkowski. Harris doesn’t have the frame to stick with him play after play, and he’s better utilized in the slot and on the outside against Patriot receivers like Julian Eldelman.

The man who brought Gronkowski’s season to an abrupt end may be also tasked with covering him. T.J. Ward famously upended Gronkowski and ended his season prematurely in 2013 with a torn ACL. Ward is an unlikely candidate to truly go one-on-one with Gronk. If the chance does arise, Ward’s physicality should come in handy.

Bradley Roby will mostly be viewed as the weak link here, yet the rookie still presents an intriguing option for Jack Del Rio to turn to.

He’s a feisty, physical corner and is big enough to give any receiver or tight end trouble.

Roby has been used as the third or nickel corner in rotation by the Denver defense, and hasn’t disappointed. He’s been making big-time plays in both the pass and run game. The rook doesn’t shy away from any player, no matter how good.

Roby has been ready and willing to take on any challenge Del Rio has thrown his way, and it wouldn’t be all that surprising if he threw Roby another sizeable one.

Quinton Carter is finally healthy and has been a coverage specialist at safety this season. He’s a dynamic cover man with good instincts, but isn’t as athletic as Rahim Moore nor can he match Gronkowski from a physical standpoint.