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Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Broncos Rookie Report: Defense

By Jeff Legwold

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The Broncos have jumped out to a 5-0 start with a rookie class still trying to find its way in some regards. But it’s clear that practice matters – they have trust you to do the right thing during the week before you get to play on Sunday. The bar is set high, and mistakes count.

With that in mind, here’s the rookie report, a weekly check-in with how Denver's first-year class on defense is doing:

Defensive tackle Sylvester Williams: Williams has been caught in the squeeze of opponents opening things up on offense to keep up with the Broncos' offense and the team’s desire to get Malik Jackson in the lineup in those pass-rush situations. Williams played just eight snaps against the Raiders, was a game-day inactive against the fast-break Eagles and this past Sunday played only four snaps on defense against the Cowboys. The Broncos spent much of the day in their specialty packages against Dallas – the vast majority of snaps on defense were in the nickel with the Broncos also having played their dime defense more than their base 4-3 look. Jackson played 22 snaps against the Cowboys and Mitch Unrein 12, gobbling up the rotational work at defensive tackle. Starters Kevin Vickerson and Terrance Knighton each played 33 snaps.

Cornerback Kayvon Webster: With Champ Bailey out for a fifth consecutive game, Webster has certainly made the most of additional work in practice as well as games on the way to a depth-chart promotion. He was elevated into the Broncos’ nickel package (five defensive backs) against the Cowboys, replacing Tony Carter as the other outside cornerback when Chris Harris moves down into the slot. Broncos coach John Fox simply said Webster had earned the move with the work he’s done through the week in practice to go with his aggressive and confident play on game day. In all Webster played 49 snaps against the Cowboys and forced a fumble on Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant that Duke Ihenacho recovered. He finished with three tackles. He also played eight snaps on special teams.

Practice squad: Defensive end John Youboty, who spent training camp with the Broncos, continues to play all along the defensive front for the scout team, lining up as an edge rusher at times and on the interior of the defensive line. Youboty, like all of the practice-squad players, has also gone through the video sessions in his position group as well.