The Denver Broncos could be getting back one of their best defensive players this Sunday. Linebacker Danny Trevathan is eligible to come off the Injured Reserve - Designated to Return list prior to this Sunday's game against the division rival San Diego Chargers. He was placed on the IR designated to return after suffering a crack in his knee during the Broncos week five matchup against the New York Jets.
Trevathan did return to practice two weeks ago, but wasn't eligible to play until this weekend. During that time Trevathan has been working himself back into shape, and making sure his knee is completely healthy.
"Danny’s rounding into shape," Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio said last Thursday. "We’re really focusing on that part, the conditioning aspect. He’s working primarily with the scout team over the last two weeks, and then obviously here soon we should get the green light with him, and it’ll be great to get him back."
While Trevathan is eligible to return, it's not a sure thing that he'll come off the list this weekend. Denver Broncos Head Coach John Fox said monday that he'll only come off the list if he's sure that Trevathan is ready. Remember Trevathan suffered a similar knee injury during Training Camp this year, and may have rushed things a little bit which may have led to the injury he suffered against the Jets.
Another reason that the Broncos may play it safe with Trevathan is emergence of linebacker Brandon Marshall. He leads the team in tackles with 109, he has 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and picked up his first interception this past weekend against the Buffalo Bills. Pro Football Focus ranks Marshall as the 3rd best 4-3 outside linebacker in the NFL(Only behind the Lions DeAndre Levy and teammate Von Miller).
Teammate Terrence "Pot Roast" Knighton cannot wait to see the two linebackers on the same field together.
"I can't wait, because Brandon Marshall's playing at a high level, he's having a Pro Bowl year, and with him and Danny back, there'll just be so much speed on the field,"
When Trevathan does return to the field it will be interesting to see how the Broncos use him. Marshall has been outstanding at the weak-side linebacker spot in Trevathan's place, so benching one for the other wouldn't make much sense. One possibility I could see happening is seeing Trevathan shift inside when the Broncos are in their base 4-3 package. Linebacker Nate Irving is out for the year, and they have been starting special teamer Steve Johnson there the past few weeks. So Trevathan would be an obvious upgrade.
I would also look for the two to play along side each other in the Broncos sub-packages. Trevathan excels in coverage, and has played well against opposing tight ends in the past. Safety T.J. Ward has been playing linebacker in the teams nickel packages, but with Trevathan returning this would free him up to play strong safety again. The Broncos have had some issues covering tight ends, and I believe Trevathan would be a big upgrade over Ward in that department.
The Broncos currently have the 4th ranked defense in total yards, and the 2nd best rush defense in the NFL will soon be getting back one of their best defensive players just in time for the NFL Playoffs.