NFL Nation: Danny Trevathan

INDIANAPOLIS -- As the on-field workouts continued Sunday at the NFL’s scouting combine, some players who will be of interest to the Denver Broncos were on display.

Sunday the defensive linemen and linebackers got to work.
  • With Danny Trevathan coming off three separate injuries to his left leg that kept him out of all but three games last season and with Nate Irving, who finished the season on injured reserve after knee surgery, scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, the Broncos will look hard at this year’s group of inside linebackers. While every team will certainly look at the group differently, it’s generally not considered that deep a position on this draft board. So the Broncos may have to consider an earlier pick to get the guy they want. Two players considered slightly undersized who will still continue to get the Broncos’ attention are Miami’s Denzel Perryman and UCLA’s Eric Kendricks. Perryman measured in at 5-foot-10 3/4 in Indy, while Kendricks was 6-0 1/4. But both were sure tacklers who consistently showed up in the run defense. Among the bigger players at the position who will get a look as well from the Broncos will be Benardrick McKinney (6-4 1/8, 246), who clocked an official 40 time of 4.66 Sunday.
  • Perryman, especially, has drawn interest at the combine from teams running a 3-4 defense, as the Broncos will run in the upcoming season. He suffered a pulled an abdominal muscle in a Senior Bowl practice and did not play in the all-star game. Perryman said in his meetings with teams that his discussions of a 3-4 defense were “pretty much second nature to me." And asked to describe his playing style, he said he believed he could, and should, be the first inside linebacker taken in the draft and called himself “a downhill, hard-nosed dog."
  • Washington’s Shaq Thompson won this year’s Hornung Award, given annually the nation’s “most versatile player." He scored two touchdowns as a running back in the 2014 season and four on defense -- one interception return for a score and three fumble returns for scores. Against Eastern Washington he had 15 tackles on defense and carried the ball three times on offense for 66 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown run. So, in theory, he could help solve the Broncos’ needs for a linebacker and, to a smaller extent, as a situational fullback. However, Thompson said at the combine he intended to play only linebacker in the NFL, and when asked about running back he said, “No, running back is out of the question." Thompson, at 228 pounds, was officially clocked at 4.64 in the 40 on Sunday.
  • The Broncos had all of their top talent evaluators at Sunday’s workouts -- including executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway, director of player personnel Matt Russell, director of pro personnel Tom Heckert and coach Gary Kubiak -- and they will give plenty of consideration to the defensive linemen they saw work Sunday. But many coaches on hand in Indy said this week they also expected to see a big jump in the Broncos’ defensive line play with the arrival of defensive line coach Bill Kollar, who is one of the most respected assistants in the league and represents a major coup for Kubiak given he was under contract with the Texans when Houston coach Bill O’Brien allowed Kollar to pursue the Broncos’ job. Kollar gets three potential starters on the defensive line still in their first contract in Sylvester Williams, Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson -- all Broncos draft picks -- to go with his work with Von Miller.
  • Elway addressed, in particular, Kollar’s potential impact on Williams, a first-round pick in the 2013 draft, this past week at the combine. “I think Sylvester’s still growing," Elway said. “We still like Sylvester, still think there’s a lot of potential there, not sure that he’s scratched it yet. If there’s any guy who can get it out of him it’s Bill Kollar. ... Sylvester is going to get tested and he’s going to get pushed."
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A closer look at the areas the Broncos could address in the draft. We'll continue today with a look at the linebackers, which are scheduled to work out Sunday in Indianapolis.

Position of need: As they install Wade Phillips' 3-4 defense, they have plenty to work with at the position, starting with impact edge rushers in Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware to line up at outside linebacker. Add in Brandon Marshall, the team's leading tackler this past season, to move into one of the inside linebacker spots as well as the Broncos' hope for a healthy return of Danny Trevathan, and that's a quality group. But the Broncos will still be on the hunt for a bigger, early-down presence on the inside to go with building some depth behind Miller and Ware.

Three players the Broncos could target in the draft:

Denzel Perryman, ILB, Miami (Fla.): Perryman measured out at 5-foot-10 5/8 inches tall at the Senior Bowl and weighed in at 242 pounds. He is a consistent tackler who plays with power in the middle of the field and has shown good range to with good instincts. When you look at the game video you see he prepares and is rarely fooled.

Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State: Like Perryman, if the Broncos want a chance at him they would likely have to commit their first-round pick (28th overall) to do it. McKinney is a tall, athletic player with a big reach and may even translate to one of the outside linebacker spots because of it. But he usually squares up blockers in run defense, sheds and plays the ball well. He's a taller player, so when he does miss tackles he misses them because he took on the ballcarrier too high.

Nate Orchard, OLB, Utah: Take a look at the Senior Bowl practices and you see a prospect who showed pass-rush skills, did just fine in coverage and understands how to hold the edge in run defense. He's got good size (6-3 1/4, 251 pounds at the Senior Bowl), a high-effort player who was a three-year starter. Knows how shed blockers and use his hands to keep himself in a position to make plays.

Denver Broncos season report card

January, 14, 2015
Jan 14
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- From the moment the Denver Broncos got up off the mat after a 35-point loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII a year ago, they said 2014 would be different.

The Broncos never hid from their Super Bowl-or-bust beliefs. Offensive players said it, defensive players said it and as they won their fourth consecutive AFC West title, the Broncos, at least, had themselves in the mix to live up to it.

But much like the 2012 and 2013 seasons, 2014 ultimately became another year when the Broncos aced the class week after week, but simply failed the final. And it cost coach John Fox his job.

Team MVP: There are plenty of candidates. Quarterback Peyton Manning threw 39 touchdown passes, second in the league. Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. played his way into some hard-earned recognition as one of the elite at his position. The Broncos had two 1,000-yard receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders while running back C.J. Anderson positioned himself as a future 1,000-yard rusher as the team’s lead back. But in the end linebacker Brandon Marshall gets it. He went from practice-squad guy to the first-team defense in 2013 to every-down linebacker in ’14. He led the team in tackles (110) despite missing two games with a foot injury. Marshall played in all personnel groupings and gave the defense some much-needed versatility in a year when two starting linebackers (Danny Trevathan and Nate Irving) ended up on injured reserve.

Best moment: There were plenty of double-take moments. There was Anderson’s improbable 51-yard catch-and-run touchdown in Oakland, just minutes from his hometown, when he seemingly ran through, or around, half the Raiders’ defense. There were Demaryius Thomas’ seven consecutive 100-yard receiving games. Or Harris' sustained excellence in the season. Still, tough to top history. On Oct. 19, in a 42-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, Manning passed Brett Favre as the league’s all-time leader in touchdown passes with 509. Manning hit Demaryius Thomas for an 8-yard score with 3:09 remaining in the first half of the game for that 509th career scoring throw. By season’s end Manning had pushed his career regular-season total to 530.

Worst moment: The 24-13 playoff loss to Indianapolis meant yet another season of Super Bowl ambitions that were not met. But in terms of singular moments that were difficult for the Broncos to overcome, Trevathan's third left leg injury of the season may have been the toughest. Trevathan, who was the team’s leading tackler in 2013, suffered a fracture at the top of his tibia in training camp, then Oct. 12 suffered another left leg fracture and, finally, Dec. 14 suffered a dislocated left kneecap against the San Diego Chargers.

2015 outlook: The Broncos face whether Manning will return. On Christmas Eve, Manning said he would be back in 2015, but then backed off that statement following the team’s loss to the Colts Sunday. After the game, Manning said “I could not say that" when asked if he was coming back in '15. Beyond that the Broncos have 17 free agents -- unrestricted or restricted combined -- including Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Terrance Knighton, Wes Welker and Rahim Moore. They have a core of playmakers on a team that has won four consecutive division titles, but the offensive line needs some attention. With the clock ticking on Manning's career, the Broncos need to decide whether Brock Osweiler is next in line or if there is more work to be done there.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Denver Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan took to social media on Tuesday as he prepared for surgery on his left leg.

Trevathan
Trevathan, who was placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season Dec. 16, played in just three games this season because of two separate fractures in his left leg to go with a dislocated left kneecap.

The third-year linebacker posted on Twitter Tuesday morning, including a picture of himself in surgical garb. Trevathan's Instagram photo is embedded below.

"Talking to my maaduke before surgery. Prayers up but God told me put in his hand. So let's go!…"

Trevathan's star-crossed season finished when he dislocated his left kneecap in the fourth quarter of the Broncos' 22-10 victory over the Chargers Dec. 14 in San Diego.

At the time, Broncos head coach John Fox said: "Sometimes setbacks are set-ups for better things to come, that will be his mindset as he gets ready for surgery and pretty strenuous rehab to come back. We feel like he'll do a great job."

Trevathan, who was the Broncos' leading tackler in 2013, missed all of the preseason and the Broncos' first three games of the regular season when he suffered a crack at the top of his tibia during an Aug. 12 training camp practice. Trevathan returned to practice on a limited basis in the sixth week of his recovery from that injury and played in the Broncos' Week 5 game against the Arizona Cardinals following the Broncos' bye week.

In Week 6, against the New York Jets, Trevathan was injured on the defense's second snap of the Oct. 12 game. A new fracture was discovered and Trevathan was placed on injured reserve designated to return.

The game against the Chargers had been his first back in the lineup.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Broncos

December, 14, 2014
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SAN DIEGO -- A few thoughts from the Denver Broncos' 22-10 victory over the San Diego Chargers in Qualcomm Stadium.

What it means: For the first time in franchise history, the Broncos have won four consecutive AFC West titles. The victory also clinched the playoff spot that comes with the division title and keeps the Broncos, at 11-3, on the inside track for a playoff bye. The victory also gives the Broncos season sweeps over the Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs. The Broncos have just one AFC West game remaining, against the Oakland Raiders, in Denver in the regular-season finale.

Stock watch: The Broncos continue to show they have the patience to play a run-first game and C.J. Anderson continues to show he has the mentality and physical strength to be the lug-it guy. Anderson, who missed some practice time this past week because of a left ankle injury, didn’t have any double-take runs against the Chargers' defense. Bu with quarterback Peyton Manning feeling ill before the game and leaving the lineup late in the first half because of a thigh injury, Anderson continued to grind away on a day when the Broncos needed him to grind away.

Depth tested on defense: Just when the Broncos thought they would finally have their defense back at full strength with Danny Trevathan back in the lineup, their depth chart was tested again. Linebacker Brandon Marshall, the Broncos' leading tackler, left the game late in the first half with a foot injury and did not return. That put Trevathan, who was playing in his first game since the Broncos’ victory against the New York Jets in October, back in the base defense. The Broncos had hoped to play Trevathan in the specialty packages in his first game back. Todd Davis, a player the Broncos claimed off waivers last month, was in both the base defense and the nickel after Marshall’s injury.

Game ball: With Manning not 100 percent physically, left tackle Ryan Clady out of the game with a thigh injury and the Chargers doing their best to slow the Broncos’ passing game, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas found a way to shake himself loose over and over again. By the time he scored on a 28-yard touchdown reception late in the third quarter, he had his eighth 100-yard game of the season, which tied him with Rod Smith for the most 100-yard games in a season in franchise history.

What’s next: The Broncos find themselves tied with the New England Patriots with an 11-3 record, but a game behind the Patriots in the race for home-field advantage because of a head-to-head loss on Nov. 2. So a trip to face the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 22 in the "Monday Night Football" finale could be a must-win for the Broncos to have a chance at home-field advantage or a postseason bye week.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – After watching linebacker Danny Trevathan practice over the past two weeks, Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said it’s “great to have him back in the mix.’’

Trevathan
 Linebacker Brandon Marshall said Friday he was “very eager’’ to line up alongside Trevathan. Cornerback Chris Harris Jr said; “Danny coming back would just give us the defense at full strength, and we've been playing good defense so that only makes us go up another notch.’’

And unless something unexpected happens in the team’s walk-through practice on Saturday, the wait will be over. The Broncos are expected to formally move Trevathan from injured reserve/designated to return to the 53-man roster Saturday before the team leaves for San Diego.

Trevathan is also expected to be in the lineup, on defense, Sunday against the San Diego Chargers. The Broncos will have make a roster move to make room for Trevathan and were considering their options on Friday for that move.

The third-year linebacker has practiced with the team since Nov. 26 and on Thursday, Del Rio said; “I think he’s looked pretty good getting back the last couple of weeks to practice. It’s good to have all the healthy bodies we can. Danny’s obviously a good player and it’s great to have him back in the mix.”

Trevathan, who was the team’s leading tackler in 2013, has been on injured reserve/designated to return since Oct. 14. Overall, he has played in just two games this season because of two separate fractures in his left leg, the first suffered in training camp, the second in the Oct. 12 game against the New York Jets.

“I’m real eager, we’re both playmakers, we both have great instincts we both make plays,’’ Marshall said about the prospects of lining up alongside Trevathan. “To have him back would be tremendous.’’

If the Broncos want to ease Trevathan back into things, they could have him participate initially in the specialty packages, in the nickel (five defensive backs) or dime (six defensive backs). If Trevathan was to return to his full duties immediately and line up at weak-side linebacker in the base defense, Marshall would then play at the middle linebacker spot.

Earlier in the week, Trevathan said he was “eager’’ to return and that “I’m always ready to go out there and put on the best performance possible, especially with this defense we’ve got right now.’’

On the prospects of lining up Marshall, who leads the Broncos in tackles this season, and Trevathan at the same time, Del Rio said; “They’re both similar in that they’re instinctive guys, they’ve got good speed, [and] they’re playmakers. So it’s really been a tremendous job by Brandon stepping in when Danny was out and the fact that he’s been able to hold up and help us play at a real high level in a big role. Obviously, getting Danny back, who had that role to begin with, should strengthen us down the stretch here.’’
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas was a full participant in the team’s practice Friday, the first time he has taken part fully in a team workout since he suffered a left ankle injury in the first quarter of the Broncos’ Nov. 16 loss in St. Louis.

Thomas, who was in uniform for the Broncos’ victory over the Buffalo Bills last Sunday but did not play a snap in the game, was formally listed as probable for Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers. Thomas, unless he suffers some unexpected setback in the team’s walk-through Saturday or in pregame warm-ups, is expected to play in San Diego and get close to his usual workload in the offense.

Thomas
“He was active for the game a week ago; I saw great progress last week," Broncos head coach John Fox said following Friday’s practice. “And even better progress this week."

Despite missing three games, Thomas is still tied for the league lead in touchdown catches with 12, the same as Green Bay’s Jordy Nelson. In the Broncos’ Oct. 23 win over the Chargers in Denver, Thomas had two receptions for 23 yards and was held without a touchdown.

Thomas’ return comes at an opportune time, as the Broncos can clinch their fourth consecutive AFC West title with a win Sunday. Tight end Jacob Tamme (ribs) is questionable for Sunday’s game and reserve tackle Paul Cornick, who has lined up as an extra tight end at times this season, is out with a toe injury on his right foot.

Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (right ankle), running back C.J. Anderson (left ankle) and wide receiver Wes Welker (right ankle) were all held out of practice Wednesday, but practiced fully Friday and will all play against the Chargers.

Running back Ronnie Hillman (left foot), who practiced for the first time Wednesday since he suffered the injury Nov. 9 against the Oakland Raiders, took part in Thursday’s and Friday’s practices on a limited basis and was formally listed as questionable for the game.

Linebacker Danny Trevathan, who is currently practicing but is still on the injured reserve/designated to return list and is eligible to play Sunday if the Broncos move him back on the roster, participated fully in practice throughout the week. The Broncos are expected to move him to the active roster Saturday so he can play Sunday against the Chargers.

Safety Quinton Carter (knee) did not practice Friday and is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game. Running back Montee Ball (right groin) and wide receiver Cody Latimer (concussion) did not practice this week and will not play Sunday.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- OK, I’ve heard the rumblings in the checkout line, read a vast array of timelines on Twitter, heard the chatter on the airwaves about the Denver Broncos.

And with a football-mad region seemingly poised over the panic button, a look at some of the Broncos' issues that have folks buzzing.

Panic: Quarterback Peyton Manning has thrown eight interceptions in the past six games, he’s had fewer than 180 passing yards in the past two and has plenty in Football America wondering if fatigue is setting in with his storied right arm.

[+] EnlargePeyton Manning
Kyle Terada/USA TODAY SportsPeyton Manning handing the ball off to a running back is starting to become a familiar sight to Denver fans.
Don't panic: Three games ago he threw four touchdown passes against the Miami Dolphins, five games ago he threw five touchdown passes against the Oakland Raiders. The Broncos are 10-3, No. 5 in the league in scoring while Manning is tied for the league lead in touchdown passes and 90 yards away from his 14th 4,000-yard passing season. And he’s done that as he and the San Diego Chargers’ Philip Rivers are the only quarterbacks in the league to have faced seven teams this season currently in the league’s top 10 in scoring defense.

Panic: Manning doesn’t like the team’s run-heavy approach over the past three games and the team was built to do something on offense that isn’t anything close to a run-first approach.

Don't panic: Manning does indeed have the last word on every play. He can call an audible from any play to any play in the team’s playbook. If the Broncos have a run-heavy approach, it’s a good bet Manning checked out of several plays to make them run plays. Now, he does often talk about the number of possessions the Broncos have in a game and executing in the passing game, but he’s 38, a Hall of Fame player in search of Super Bowl trips. You have to believe a player so well-versed in defensive game plans to see when the choice to run the ball is a clear one.

Panic: Julius Thomas is hurt, has missed three games. Demaryius Thomas is hurting with a bad ankle. Wes Welker has had games this season where he appears to be an afterthought who can’t shake the defensive back across from him. And the Broncos are currently using the running backs who were No. 3 and No. 4 on the depth chart when the season opened.

Don't panic: Though he didn’t take a snap Sunday against the Bills, Julius Thomas was in uniform. The Broncos obviously believe he’s close to being ready. Defenses have taken advantage of his absence, loading up the middle of the field to keep the Broncos from their favorite catch-and-run plays on crossing routes. But if the Broncos can keep running the ball with effectiveness and Thomas is again pulling a defender, or two, in tow in coverage, suddenly some additional passing lanes will open. With Julius Thomas in the lineup, Demaryius Thomas had seven consecutive 100-yard games, none in the games Julius Thomas has missed. All the pieces fit together and with Welker’s 82 yards receiving Sunday -- a season best for him – those pieces are closer to fitting together as intended for the first time since Julius Thomas left the Rams game.

Panic: The Broncos' revamped defense is 16th in the league in scoring defense -- 22.5 points allowed per game and behind the playoff heavyweights like the Seattle Seahawks (18.1 per game) and New England Patriots (20.5 per game). Kyle Orton went 12-of-13 passing on third down against the Broncos for 132 yards on those plays. And of the 12 teams, Broncos included, which have surrendered at least 92 fourth-quarter points this season (Broncos are at 92), five are among the league’s worst like the Titans (103 fourth-quarter points allowed), Redskins (103 allowed) and Jaguars (100 allowed).

Don’t panic: The Green Bay Packers are kindered spirits. The Packers (10-3) are 18th in scoring defense (23.4 points allowed per game) and have surrendered 100 fourth-quarter points. They, like the Broncos, play with the lead a lot and both have surrendered some late make-it-closer touchdowns. The Broncos are No. 4 in sacks, No. 2 in run defense and tied for No. 9 in interceptions. The unit is deeper and faster overall than they were last season and linebacker Danny Trevathan, the team’s leading tackler in 2013 who has played in just two games this season, is eligible to return to the lineup this week.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- With two starting linebackers already missing games because of injuries, the Denver Broncos decided Thursday they couldn’t wait any longer on Nate Irving's recovery.

Irving
Irving, who was the Broncos’ starting middle linebacker, was moved to injured reserve Thursday because of a knee injury. The Broncos had also put in a waiver claim for linebacker Todd Davis, who had been released by the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday, and were awarded Davis on Thursday. Irving, who is to be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, will miss the rest of the season.

The two moves speak to the severity of Irving’s injury as well as the Broncos' desire for some additional depth at the position. Davis, an undrafted rookie, who had been on the Saints’ practice squad for much of the season, had appeared in three games for New Orleans on special teams and had three tackles in those three games combined.

The Broncos could not use the "designated to return" option to wait for Irving to heal because they have already used it on Danny Trevathan.

Trevathan has played in just two games because of two separate fractures in his lower left leg, and the Broncos have already designated Trevathan for return from injured reserve. Trevathan, who missed the preseason and the first three games of the regular season with the first fracture before re-injuring the leg, in a different spot, in his second game back, is eligible to return to practice Nov. 26 and can be moved back to the active roster in the week leading up to the Broncos’ Dec. 14 game against the San Diego Chargers.

Teams can only designate one player in a season for return from injured reserve. So, when Irving suffered a severely sprained MCL in his right knee in the Broncos’ Nov. 2 loss to New England, it put the team in a bit of a bind. At minimum the Broncos were expecting Irving to miss several weeks -- he had not practiced since the injury and was not expected to in the coming weeks.

It is also a testament to the team’s confidence in Brandon Marshall, who is the Broncos’ leading tackler having started in Trevathan’s weakside linebacker spot. When Trevathan returns the Broncos are going to look for ways to keep Marshall on the field in the base formation, so playing Marshall at middle linebacker in the base defense is expected to be one of those ways.

Steven Johnson played at middle linebacker this past Sunday against the Oakland Raiders and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said Johnson "did just fine, Stevie’s a dependable guy, tough guy, smart guy, and he understood his role and did a nice job with it." Johnson played 19 snaps on defense in Irving’s place.

Davis, who played at Sacramento State, was one of the players the Broncos had interest in as a possible rookie free agent. He was on the Broncos’ contact list, but Davis elected to sign with the Saints.

Midseason report: Denver Broncos

November, 5, 2014
11/05/14
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The Denver Broncos have arrived to the halfway point of their season with Super Bowl aspirations still in tow and having put their collective nose to the grindstone with a schedule unlike any of the league’s other front-runners.

The Broncos have wins over two division leaders in the Arizona Cardinals (7-1) and the Indianapolis Colts (5-3) to go with wins over the San Francisco 49ers (4-4), San Diego Chargers (5-4) and Kansas City Chiefs (5-3).

Of the Broncos' six victories, the only one that has come against a team with a losing record at the halfway point was the New York Jets. But the Broncos have also lost to the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots, meaning they are 1-2 on the road this season.

As linebacker Von Miller put it: "We been good, and we've been not as good, and we need to be better. That's where we're at: We need to be better, I need to be better, we all need to be better."

Midseason MVP: The Broncos have many, with Miller playing at the level of a Defensive Player of the Year candidate not named J.J. Watt to go with Chris Harris Jr., Demaryius Thomas and linebacker Brandon Marshall, who is the team’s leading tackler, filling in for the injured Danny Trevathan.

But in the end, you can’t get past what Peyton Manning is doing at age 38 -- a tough Sunday night against the Patriots notwithstanding. He has 24 touchdown passes after eight games and is on pace for his third season with at least 48 TD passes. He has a completion percentage of 67.3 and had five games with at least three touchdown passes.

Biggest disappointment: The Broncos have shown plenty of precision and explosiveness on offense to go with high-end team speed and aggressiveness on defense. But there are a couple of things that still need attention.

The team has had little impact in the return game on special teams, especially on punt returns, and has left some potential quality field position on the table. But the biggest question mark when it comes to how things will go in the biggest games is in the offensive line.

Opposing personnel executives say an offense that is among the league’s best and highest-scoring might not have a Pro Bowl selection up front. The Broncos have already made a switch at right tackle, guard Louis Vasquez, an All-Pro last season, is playing like he’s hurting (he’s had back and rib issues this year), while Orlando Franklin has battled hard, but the switch to guard might have been more difficult than the Broncos expected. The Broncos have surrendered two sacks to the Jets and one to the Patriots on three-man rushes.

Best moment: The Broncos have piled up some double-take plays on both sides of the ball, but only one sent the football to the Hall of Fame: an 8-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Thomas on Oct. 19. The pass gave Manning 509 career touchdown passes, surpassing Brett Favre's mark for career TD passes.

It was one of four touchdown passes Manning threw in the Broncos’ 42-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Manning achieved that piece of league history in his 246th career start, while Favre threw his 508 touchdown passes in 302 career starts.

Worst moment: On the second Broncos defensive play in the Oct. 12 game against the Jets, linebacker Trevathan suffered the second fracture in his left leg of the season.

Trevathan suffered what Broncos coach John Fox called “a crack," just above his left knee. It has been a star-crossed season for Trevathan, who was the Broncos’ leading tackler last season, since he suffered a crack at the top of his left tibia in a training camp practice Aug. 12.

Trevathan has returned to the practice field, on a limited basis, on the sixth week of his recovery. He returned in the fourth game of the season to play 55 of the defense’s 58 snaps in the 41-20 victory over the Cardinals.

Key to the second half: In the Super Bowl conversation for the third consecutive season, the Broncos have to find a way to walk the line between keeping their edge and maintaining at least some looseness.

This team has played tight at times in the past two postseasons, as it exited each without a title. It showed a little more of that big-game tightness in Sunday's loss to the Patriots when a Manning interception turned into a full-scale cave-in that resulted in a 24-point second quarter for New England. This Broncos team has more talent, top to bottom, than either of the previous two, so if they maintain their momentum and find a way to enjoy the ride, this season offers a quality chance at the title. But they can't keep making mistakes at the toughest times in the biggest games.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Broncos

October, 12, 2014
10/12/14
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts from the Denver Broncos’ 31-17 victory over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.

What it means: Although it became more of a struggle than it should have been, the Broncos continue to grind their way through the array of physical defenses that have dotted the opening half of their 2014 schedule. The Broncos sit at 4-1, with their only loss coming in Seattle in overtime in Week 3. They certainly didn’t have their best fastball Sunday and looked out of sorts at times on offense to go with far too many penalties (10 in the first three quarters), but they had just enough for the struggling Jets.

Stock watch: With linebacker Danny Trevathan having left Sunday’s game with a left knee injury after the Broncos’ second play from scrimmage on defense, the Broncos again turned to Brandon Marshall to work in the weakside linebacker spot. Marshall had started the Broncos’ first three games in place of Trevathan, who had suffered a fracture at the top of his left tibia in training camp. Marshall was the team’s leading tackler when Trevathan returned to the lineup in last Sunday's game against the Cardinals, and the Broncos expect to need that kind of production from him moving forward as well.

Hillman, Thompson the 1-2: With Montee Ball out of the lineup because of a right groin injury, Ronnie Hillman started at running back for the Broncos, and Thompson worked as the No. 2. Both flashed some quickness to the hole against a physical Jets front, as Hillman finished with a career single-game high of 100 rushing yards. The Broncos had particular success when they moved into a two-tight end set in the third quarter, often using reserve tackle Paul Cornick as the second tight end.

Game ball: You likely could hand one to Peyton Manning each week, including after this game. But with Ball out, the Broncos needed Hillman to be the kind of back they’d hoped he'd be when they selected him in the third round of the 2012 draft. Although he did fumble once -- after a 26-yard third-quarter run, and Andre Caldwell recovered it -- Hillman finished with his first career 100-yard game. The Broncos had moments when they still looked unsure of what they want in the run game, such as when they kept Hillman in with just over six minutes remaining in the game and he was stuffed on a third-and-short, but they needed some impact from Hillman in this one, and they got it.

What’s next: The Broncos have what is likely their toughest turnaround of the season. They will face the run-heavy, pound-it-out San Francisco 49ers next Sunday followed by a now-key AFC West matchup with the San Diego Chargers a week from Thursday. The Chargers, on a Thursday, were the only team to defeat the Broncos at home last season.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos quietly reached a roster milestone for the 2014 season at the opening of Thursday's practice.

Trevathan
For the first time since the team opened training camp July 24, the Broncos had every player on the roster in uniform and participating in practice. Safety David Bruton Jr. (ankle) and guard Louis Vasquez (rib cage) were limited in Thursday’s work but did participate in most of the workout.

Because of injuries and excused absences, the Broncos had not had 100 percent participation for any full practice before Thursday. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas had missed the opening days of training camp because of a death in his family, and by the time he returned the team had a smattering of players suffer injuries that required them to miss time.

Linebacker Danny Trevathan also returned to practice last week after he had suffered a fracture on the top of his tibia in an Aug. 12 practice. Trevathan has practiced fully all week and is set to return to the lineup in his weakside position.

Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said Thursday that given Trevathan didn’t play in the preseason or in the Broncos’ first three games of the regular season, the linebacker’s snap count would likely be monitored.

“I think we’ll anticipate -- I’m not sure exactly -- but at some point we will spell him during the game and not count on him going out there playing 80 plays or whatever right away," Del Rio said.

Asked if he was really hoping the Broncos would play a defense-sapping 80 plays, Del Rio added, “Well, 45 would be fine."
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- With linebacker Danny Trevathan on track to play Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, the Denver Broncos will be at full strength as they play their first game coming off a Week 4 bye.

Trevathan
Trevathan, who suffered a fracture at the top of his tibia in an Aug. 12 training camp practice, practiced fully on Monday and again on Wednesday. He was the team’s leading tackler last season and his return gives the Broncos plenty of options in their personnel groupings on defense, especially since his replacement, Brandon Marshall, has performed well enough to be tied for the team lead in tackles after three games.

“I still think [Marshall] is going to play a lot," cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said “ … But getting Danny back means we have everybody in there and can do whatever we need to do."

Asked about how Trevathan has worked in practice, Broncos head coach John Fox said following Wednesday’s practice: “He looked good Monday as well, it’s good to have him back. … He’s very happy to be back."

Overall, following their earlier bye week since 2006, the Broncos are healthy as safety David Bruton Jr. (ankle) was the only Broncos player held out of Wednesday’s practice. Linebacker Lerentee McCray (knee), who has not played since the Broncos' Week 2 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, was limited in practice as was guard Louis Vasquez.

Fox said Vasquez, who has battled some stiffness in his back this season, had a “rib cage’’ injury. Vasquez has not missed a game since he signed with the Broncos before the 2013 season and is expected to be in the lineup on Sunday.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The plans for the Denver Broncos' defense spent a great deal of time on the drawing board, iPad, desktop monitor or anywhere else plans are constructed these days.

How it would look, who would fill out the depth chart, was at the forefront of what the team's top football decision-maker, John Elway, wanted to get done. And Sunday, when the Broncos face the Arizona Cardinals, the Broncos are expected to have the defense they built on the field for the first time this season.

[+] EnlargeAqib Talib
John Leyba/The Denver Post/Getty ImagesAqib Talib and the Broncos' defense are allowing 390.7 yards per game so far this season.
Linebacker Danny Trevathan, who suffered a fracture at the top of his tibia in an Aug. 12 training camp practice, is on track to return to the lineup against the Cardinals. His return will give the Broncos, for the first time this season, the personnel groupings in the game they hoped to have after their offseason makeover.

"When the season started we had guys coming back (from injuries) like me, Von (Miller), Chris (Harris Jr.), we had some new guys," said safety Rahim Moore. "We've played well, we want to be better, but we've shown what we can do. When we get more consistent in all situations I think people will see what we're about."

Before the season began, Broncos players and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said they believed the team could field a top-five defense before all was said and done this season. Then Trevathan was injured while linebacker Miller and cornerback Harris Jr., who are both coming off ACL surgeries, were on a pitch-count of sorts in the early going.

The Broncos also faced Andrew Luck, Alex Smith and Russell Wilson in their first three games. As a result, the Broncos returned from their bye some distance from the league's top five.

The Broncos are 27th in yards allowed per game -- what the NFL uses to statistically rank its defenses -- at 390.7 yards per game while Denver is tied for 13th in points allowed per game, allowing 22.3 per game.

"I think when you have as many new starts as we have it's going to take a little time to build that in-game chemistry it takes," said Broncos head coach John Fox following Monday's practice. "I thought in the first two games, you know, the situations at the end of the game were good learning experiences and character building type of situations, game is on the line. We didn't fare quite as well in Seattle in that same type of situation, in overtime, but I saw growth and I saw us get better."

Rookie cornerback Bradley Roby knocked away a Luck pass on fourth down to close out the Broncos' season-opening win against the Colts while defensive tackle Terrance Knighton knocked down a fourth-down pass attempt by Smith in Week 2 to preserve the win against the Chiefs.

The Broncos, after a hearty defensive effort against the Seahawks, couldn't close the deal in overtime, so while they still have liked much of what they've seen, the team's defense has not been the lock-down group all involved hope it will be.

In Trevathan's absence Brandon Marshall, a third-year player, played in the weak-side linebacker spot. Marshall is tied for the team lead in tackles (29) after three games. And the Broncos, in the loss to the Seahawks, also used their two rookies at the position -- Lamin Barrow and Corey Nelson -- in some situational work on defense.

"I thought Brandon Marshall stepped in and did a real good job," Fox said. "We've got some youth at that position, there were errors made, but all in all, just like our record, I think, two of the situations better than the third. We'll welcome back Danny because he was one of one of our better players and it's good to have him back."

Trevathan, though he was the team's leading tackler last season, hasn't played in a game since the Broncos' loss in Super Bowl XLVIII. He has said he thinks he will "be ready to go, 100 percent, when I get back out there," but the Broncos may work him back up to his usual snap counts as they have with some of the other players returning from injuries. Broncos middle linebacker Nate Irving said Trevathan's return is something "we've all been waiting for."

"He's got tremendous speed and explosion, and those things all ring pretty well when you're getting more experience as he is as a young player," Fox said. "I've just seen him progress every season, really every game."
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- With a four-day weekend on deck because of the bye week, Denver Broncos coach John Fox gave a few players the day off from practice Wednesday as the team went through an abbreviated workout.

"[I] feel good about the health of our football team," Fox said after Wednesday’s practice.

Because of the bye, the Broncos do not have to issue a formal injury report, but guard Louis Vasquez, who has dealt with a lower back injury of late, was held out of both practices this week. On Wednesday, the Broncos also held safety David Bruton (shoulder) and safety Quinton Carter out of practice after both players had taken part in Tuesday's work.

Bruton, who played this past Sunday in Seattle, suffered his injury in the season-opening win over the Indianapolis Colts. Carter has played in all three of the Broncos' games, but he missed almost two years with knee troubles, including a microfracture surgery, before returning to the field this season.

The Broncos also closed out their practice week with tight end Virgil Green (concussion) and linebacker Lerentee McCray (knee) out. Green is currently under the league’s concussion protocol while McCray, who was injured in Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs, is expected to miss several weeks. Linebacker Danny Trevathan, who has not played since suffering a fracture to the top of his tibia in an Aug. 12 training camp practice, took part in both Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s practices and remains on track to play in the Week 5 game against the Arizona Cardinals.

"I feel good, just getting ready, man, keep grinding my way back," Trevathan said. "Just working to get back in there. … I can’t wait."

For players like wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, who hasn't missed time despite dealing with left foot pain, will also be helped by the early off week. The Broncos have three home games in October immediately following the bye before a season-closing stretch with six of their last nine games on the road.

Fox said he kept to the usual bye week routine despite the Broncos having their earliest bye since the 2006 season. He said it was just the second time in his 14 years as a head coach to have a Week 4 bye.

"Some self-scouting things, obviously some Arizona work … come back ready to go for the meaty part of our season," Fox said.

Fox has usually reminded his players before each bye week that he "doesn’t want to read about them unless they win the lottery," but had to take a different tact this time. During last year’s bye week Fox underwent open heart surgery and missed the next four games with defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio serving as the team’s interim head coach.

"[So] I kind of back off that one because they read about me," Fox said. "And I didn’t win the lottery by any stretch. I just told them to make good decisions, be smart, relax, enjoy the time off, come back ready to work."

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