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Young guys need to step up in Harris Jr.’s absence

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Vance Joseph tells Dave Logan on Orange & Blue Radio he has confidence his young secondary can meet the challenge.

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NFL: Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Although Sunday’s win was another gritty fight for the Broncos, the body count on the battlefield has left the team digging deep - as in deeeeeeep - in the secondary for the remaining four games of the season.

Vance Joseph confirmed that the team is hopeful to get injured Chris Harris Jr. back for the Week 17 game against the Chargers, ruling out putting him on IR. The Broncos reported today that they will bring in former Cardinals cornerback Jamar Taylor for a physical to fill some roster space until Harris Jr. heals.

With Harris Jr. out four weeks, the Broncos are relying on rookie Isaac Yiadom and second-year corner Brendan Langley to help streaky Bradley Roby cover the cornerback slots once not so long ago occupied by Pro Bowlers Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib.

Yikes.

And although two of the upcoming opponents include the 2-10 49ers, 2-10 Raiders plus the 4-7 Browns before getting the Chargers at home, none of the four will be an easy win - especially with a patchwork quilt of a secondary that includes moving Justin Simmons to nickel.

But as Joseph told Dave Logan on Orange & Blue Radio today, he’s got confidence in the young guys.

“I’m very comfortable with our roster as far as Yiadom and Langley,” Joseph said. “We have some young guys that have to step up. That’s why you build the roster the way you build it so you have some depth and you don’t lose any positive mojo when you’re playing good. Injuries happen; I think we’re prepared for it, and we have to move forward.”

Joseph also noted that Simmons - who jumped in at nickel on the fly on Sunday once Harris Jr. went down - did well despite changing positions.

“It’s incredible that he could move from a safety to nickel on the spur of the moment like that - and that speaks to his football IQ and to his physical abilities. And he played nickel really, really well yesterday,” Joseph said, adding that Yiadom went from playing sub to base corner. “And that young corner has gotten better and better each week. He’s fearless, he’s smart, he plays with great technique and he’s got the type of personality that he can bounce back from bad plays.”

The head coach noted that Joe Jones, who mainly plays special teams, had to fill in for Josey Jewell when the linebacker - who was already playing the backup role for an injured Brandon Marshall - went out with an injury. And Jones made four tackles.

“Our staff have prepared our young guys to step in to play and to play meaningful downs,” the coach said. “I’m looking forward to watching these young guys play.”