Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Broncos rookie report: Webster steps up
By Jeff Legwold
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- With one preseason outing already in the books -- a 10-6 victory over San Francisco -- most of the Broncos rookies can expect a little less work this weekend in Seattle.
That's because the team's veterans figure to play far more against the Seahawks than they did against the 49ers, keeping many of the rookies on the sidelines for more of the game.
With that in mind, here’s the rookie report, a weekly check-in with how Denver's first-year class is doing.
The draft class DT Sylvester Williams Williams got some work with the defensive regulars against the 49ers, but also stayed in the game with the second-team defense into the second quarter. He played 23 snaps on defense to go with one special teams play. He did not register a tackle against a physical 49ers front. But Williams did show he can push the pocket and he continues to track toward playing more, at least early on in the regular season as a pass-rusher in the 4-3.
Rookie Kayvon Webster saw a lot of snaps and had an interception against the 49ers.
RB Montee Ball Ball is still slightly behind Ronnie Hillman in the rotation. Quarterback Peyton Manning and most of the Broncos offensive skill position starters played just seven snaps against the 49ers. Ball entered the game on the Broncos' third possession of the game. On a night when the Broncos struggled to control the line of scrimmage for the most part, he finished with just five yards on nine carries (1.8 yards per carry) and played just 11 snaps on offense. He has continued to get some spot carries with the regulars through this week's practices and still sits at No. 2 on the depth chart.
CB Kayvon Webster When the Broncos looked at Webster before the draft, one thing that caught their attention was his willingness to play in press coverage -- something you don't often see in college as most coordinators prefer to keep their cornerbacks off the ball, even in man coverage. For this part, Webster has continued to show that ability in practice. And against the 49ers, the Broncos pulled Champ Bailey and Chris Harris out of the game early -- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie did not play because of an ankle injury -- so Webster was plenty busy. He finished with 43 snaps on defense -- 43 percent of the defensive plays in the game -- to go with 11 snaps on special teams and snared one of two Broncos interceptions in the game. He doesn't figure to get as much work against the Seahawks, but the Broncos liked what they saw from him.
DE Quanterus Smith Smith has shown some difficulty in coming back from surgery to repair a torn ACL he suffered in the 10th game of the 2012 season at Western Kentucky. He was removed from one practice last week and hasn't quite practiced with the same explosion, at times, as he did early on in camp. He continues to say he feels fine, but he played just 15 snaps against the 49ers on a night when most of the team's younger players got more work than that. He also appeared on two special teams plays. It will bear watching over the next two or three weeks given the Broncos would like Smith for spot duty in the pass rush in the regular season, especially if Von Miller does not win his appeal of a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
WR Tavarres King King continues to show savvy beyond his years in the way he handles himself on the field. He also continues to push Andre Caldwell to be the No. 4 player, but Caldwell has lifted his game in practice in response to the challenge. King played 29 plays against the 49ers -- Caldwell finished with 21. King was targeted three times by backup quarterback Brock Osweiler and finished with two catches for 14 yards. He figures to get some playing time in the second half against the Seahawks.
T Vinston Painter Painter played a team-high 55 offensive snaps -- 82 percent of the offensive plays the Broncos ran against San Francisco. He added two plays on special teams. But it was quality work for Painter, who played as the No. 2 right tackle, including plenty of time in the game blocking in front of Osweiler. Painter is on track to make the final 53 and any playing time he gets in the remainder of the preseason will benefit him greatly.
QB Zac Dysert Dysert got to dip his toe in the NFL pond with 14 snaps as the No. 3 quarterback. He finished the night 3 of 3 passing for 16 yards, but also took a sack behind what was spotty protection for all of the quarterbacks. Dysert is still quick to pull the ball down and take off when he feels pressure coming from the edge. The Broncos want him to continue to stand in the pocket and show he can run the offense. He might not get much work against the Seahawks.
Undrafted rookies Among the team's undrafted rookies, running back C.J. Anderson came away with the most momentum. And while through the years plenty of August heroes have not gone on to make an NFL roster in September, Anderson caught the Broncos' eye with his 69 yards on 15 carries (4.6 yards per carry). He was quick to the hole and decisive in his first cut to get up the field. He will, however, have to continue to try and improve his consistency in practice. He still has a concentration lapse from time to time and if the coaches don't trust you to do it right, they aren't going to let you carry the ball when the games count. At 224 pounds, Anderson is a big-back option, but he hasn't been able to move up the depth chart and would need the team to keep five backs or to make a surprise cut at this point to crack the final 53.
Linebacker Larentee McCray finished with a sack -- one of two the Broncos had in the game -- and two tackles in his 19 plays. McCray also turned in nine plays on special teams. And he has to carve out a niche on special teams to make the roster. But at 6-foot-3, 249 pounds he's still one of the biggest options at the position and the Broncos like the way he attacks the line of scrimmage.
Wide receiver/Kick returner Quincy McDuffie flashed some potential in camp's early going, but has been sidelined of late with an ill-timed hamstring injury. He missed the 49ers game and has not practiced this week. Wide receiver Lamaar Thomas made the most of his chances, with quality routes, as he finished with a catch for 14 yards and was targeted twice in his 32 plays.