BroncosRants: Injuries, Suspensions Do Not Stop Denver Broncos
As the injuries begin to mount and players continue to step up in line, the Denver Broncos have been fortunate not to see a drop-off in production on the field. On this Sunday, it was not meant to be for the Oakland Raiders to come into the home of the Broncos and extend their win streak to five games. The Broncos recently have been bitten by the injury bug and have had to deal with a suspension to their middle linebacker, Joe Mays. In a relative whipping of the Raiders, 37-6, the play of the back-ups must be noted.
The offensive line misses the play of G Chris Kuper who has begun limited practices this week with the team after breaking his forearm in preseason. The play of his replacement, Manny Ramirez, has been up and down, but could be a lot worse. Peyton Manning was not touched once yesterday thanks to a stout o-line, and Ramirez was a big part of that.
Center J.D. Walton left yesterday’s game with a broken ankle and most likely will miss the rest of the season. It is up to veteran Dan Koppen, the ex-Patriot to fill his shoes, and nobody should expect a drop-off in that area. S Quinton Carter has also been placed on injured reserve because of an aggravating knee that requires microfracture surgery. To replace him, the Broncos brought rookie S Duke Ihenacho from the practice squad to watch and learn as David Bruton and Jim Leonhard are presented with bigger roles in the defense.
The loss of DT TY Warren was considered the worst of the blows for the Broncos defense, but surprisingly, Kevin Vickerson has done a remarkable job holding his own while keeping pressure on the opposing o-line and stopping the run. The Broncos were able to hold Darren McFadden on Sunday to only 34yds on 13 carries and rendering him useless to the Raiders offense.
Along with the concussion to LB Nate Irving last week, Mays, their defensive signal-caller, was suspended for the game for a vicious hit on Houston Texan QB Matt Schaub last week which tore off a part of his ear. The Broncos are still without LB D.J. Williams who was suspended for the first six games due to giving a non-human urine sample and will most likely miss three more after a second DUI incident. This unit started as the weak link in the Broncos defense to begin with, and now has had to deal with more adversity. Keith Brooking, Von Miller and Wesley Woodyard actually looked like the best group the Broncos have had at LB in four games, and it will be interesting to see what Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio does moving forward.
In all, if the Broncos reserves keep coming up big, then the team will be that much better for it in the long run. Head Coach John Fox and Del Rio have done a stellar job so far in 2012 plugging the next man in and making the game plan work. At 2-2, the Broncos next two games against the New England Patriots and the San Diego Chargers will be the test of wills going into a week 7 bye and a much needed rest. The Broncos just need a bit more time to get their best back on the field and complete their transformation to serious contender.
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