The Denver Broncos have trimmed their roster down to 52 players on Saturday, leaving one spot open for inside linebacker or quarterback help within the next day or so.
President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway and Head Coach Vic Fangio met with them media to discuss their thought processes and decision-making as they went through the cut downs.
Here is what we learned.
Backup quarterback situation is still fluid
After cutting both Kevin Hogan and Brett Rypien, we should expect the Broncos to add a veteran backup to hold down the backup position until rookie Drew Lock heals up from the hand injury he suffered during the preseason.
Elway: “We’re exploring all our options. We looked at it and it’s a spot that we needed. The plan is to put Drew [Lock] on IR and then go from there. We needed the spot. With Drew being out six-to-eight weeks, I figured the best thing for us as a team was to use that spot, so we’ll make that corresponding move as we go.”
Elway: “Wide open. We’ll just see what happens. Obviously, the wire is going to come out in about three or four hours, so we’ll see what’s there. We are exploring all options at this point in time.”
Fangio: “We’ll have it fixed. We don’t play for about what 12 days, 11 days? There will be somebody in there.”
Look for a tight end to be added who can play fullback
I thought the Orson Charles signing would end up being the guy they would consider to fill in for Andy Janovich while he nursed his injury for the next month. That didn’t happen as Charles was cut along with rookie George Aston whom they hope to stash on the practice squad for this year.
When asked about the fullback situation, Elway chose to talk about tight end, which is pretty telling where he intends to go to fill that need.
Elway: “We’ll continue to look into the tight end position and see what’s available as far what’s out there, as far as claiming someone at tight end or whatnot. That’s kind of the plan right now.”
Elway added: “We’ll see what’s on the wire at fullback, as well as tight end and continue to go there. Janovich—he’s a couple of two or three weeks out, I think. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Inside linebacker is an area the team will look to improve depth with
With the team bringing in former-Bronco Corey Nelson, there is clearly a need for improved depth at the position. Nelson would also add some special teams play to the mix, which would kill two birds with one stone.
They also like how both Alexander Johnson and Josh Watson are coming along, but with the injuries they’ve had in preseason to both Todd Davis and Josey Jewell they do need extra depth there.
Elway on ILB: “We have plans on one there. We just can’t announce it yet. We’re talking right now, so we’ve got plans for that spot. We’ve got one coming in.”
Fangio on Johnson and Watson: “I think both guys kept improving. A.J. has been out of football for a while until last year when he got picked up here and I think he still has a lot more improving to do, but I’m encouraged by where he’s headed.”
Mike Purcell and DeMarcus Walker have been pleasant surprises so far
When the Broncos released Zach Kerr and then DeShawn Williams, everyone began to realize that little-known Mike Purcell was a name to remember. DeMarcus Walker then came in and sealed their fates with a strong preseason too.
Fangio: “I remember when John [Elway] and [Director of Player Personnel] Matt [Russell] came to me and said that we’re thinking about signing Purcell way back when. I said, ‘Be careful you’ll like him.’ Mike came in and had a heck of a camp. He earned his way on this football team, no two ways about it, through practice and through the games.”
Elway on Purcell and Walker: “They play, that’s what does it. Mike really came in and really played well and did a really nice job. He earned the spot too.”
Elway with more on Walker: “He did, yeah. And he’s bigger, he is 300 pounds now. He’s moving well inside there. He’s really had a really great camp also. Those are two guys where we needed help in the defensive line and they’ve come thorough and played well so far.”
Cutting down from 90 to 53 is never easy
Significant injuries always made this process a bit annoying for Elway and Fangio. With Lock, Riddick, and Janovich all having that long recovery time, they appear to be ready to use both of their IR with designation to return on Lock and Riddick, while waiting on Janovich to recover.
Oddly enough, they also opted to keep tight end Jake Butt on the active roster instead of putting him on IR again, which I don’t quite understand. But maybe that will be cleared up soon as to why they gave him a roster spot instead.
Elway on injuries making process difficult: “Yeah, and it still is. It is always until you get through the whole process and the wire comes out and you see what’s there. So, we’re going to continue to try to get better when we see the wire and what’s in the wire. If there’s someone on there that can make us better, then we’ll take advantage of it. You’ve always got to have slots for that. You can’t use the IR slots for those guys either, so you’ve got to make sure that if there are opportunities on the wire that you have different things that you can do—different moves you can make to build and take advantage of it.”
More to come as the Broncos will likely be active in the next week to round out the back end of their roster for Week 1 against the Oakland Raiders.