Broncos rookie report -- Defense

September, 2, 2013
9/02/13
1:05
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As much as everyone in the locker room hopes the roster is “set’’ when the cuts are made to get to 53, it is always a fluid situation when it comes to how things shake out over the course of a season.

But the Broncos’ first-year class fared OK as it exited the preseason and is poised for Thursday’s opener. 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: To show him what it’s like to slug it out on the defensive interior, in terms of conditioning and effort, the Broncos kept Williams in the preseason finale against Arizona for 56 plays -- that was 85 percent of the defensive snaps. No defensive lineman played more in the game, but they’ve pushed him hard because they want him to be ready to contribute in their rotation up front. Williams will certainly be in the pass-rush looks early in the season, but they’d like to use him in as many situations as possible and want him to understand they’ve put the bar pretty high for him.

Cornerback Kayvon Webster: Because of special-teams duties, Webster was one of 11 defensive backs the team kept in the final cutdown and he's the only rookie in the group. He showed himself to be a physical player in coverage, a willing tackler and has the proper leave a bad play behind mindset it takes to play the position. He’ll see plenty of time on special teams and will appear in some of the Broncos' specialty packages on defense.

Quanterus Smith: Smith didn’t make the roster at 53, but was subject to one of the team’s more curious moves when he was placed on injured reserve for the season. After having surgery last November to repair a torn ACL, Smith worked his way back to be ready for training camp. He was pulled from just one practice because of the knee and played in all four preseason games, including 52 plays against the Cardinals last Thursday. The team wants to give him more time to strengthen the knee and learn the game, but there is no question he wanted to be on the roster.

Practice squad: Defensive end John Youboty was with the Broncos all through training camp and signed back to the practice squad after he cleared waivers. The Broncos like the 258-pounder as a rush end prospect.

Jeff Legwold

ESPN Denver Broncos reporter

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