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Stopping Gurley II could fall on an entirely second-string Broncos’ D-line

But Dre’Mont Jones says they’re up for the challenge.

NFL “u2013 LOS ANGELES CHARGERS VS. DENVER BRONCOS Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The Broncos’ defense has been pretty spectacular this season even as the team W-L record doesn’t show it.

But it will have a big test this weekend against a surging Falcons offense that has had no problem scoring points this season. Between Julio Jones and Todd Gurley II, there’s a lot of damage to be done to an opposing defense - especially one missing its entire starting defensive line and a starting cornerback.

With Shelby Harris on the COVID-19 reserve/injured list and possibly out for Sunday, and A.J. Bouyé in concussion protocol, some backups at key defensive positions are going to be called upon.

“If we don’t have Shelby, we’re basically missing our entire starting defensive line,” coach Vic Fangio said. “Probably ‘Sosa’ (McTelvin Agim) would come up then as the fifth lineman. We’ve got the other four guys and we’ll make do with that.”

The “other four” include DeShawn Williams, Dre’Mont Jones, Sylvester Williams, and Demarcus Walker - which Fangio noted will “get a lot more plays than they have been” due to injuries that have now taken Jurrell Casey and Mike Purcell for the season.

“I thought Demarcus had a very good game last week in the snaps that he did get. He made some good plays for us,” Fangio said, noting his sack that was called back because of aa penalty. “We need him to build on that game and continue to get better and I think he can. Same thing with Dre...He’s definitely improved each and every game. You can see him getting his strength and his confidence back in his leg there.”

Jones said the backup line is going to be ready.

“I think it’s a challenge that we all can hold up,” he said. “It’s not really an issue. At the end of the day, we’re playing football. Nothing really changes—we lost some key players but we all three have the ability to play well.”

It won’t be an easy task. Although Gurley has been held to under 50 yards rushing in two of his last three games, he’s been explosive for the Falcons and found the end zone eight times this season.

Jones sees his run defense as an area to improve - and he’ll get a good test on Sunday.

“I still have a lot to improve on in run defense. It really just depends on me focusing up and watching the film some more. Just really concentrating on the little things in the run game,” he said. “I don’t feel the pressure of trying to keep it up more. I think I just have to go out there and play normal football that I’ve been playing and just reminding myself that I can play.”

His key stuff on the Chargers’ 4th-and-1 in the second quarter last week should be a helpful reminder.

“I’ve kind of always had that ability to do that,” Jones said. “I’ve just got to make sure I’m always consistent with it and apply that pressure for our defense.”

And with Malik Reed and Bradley Chubb doing their thing, it should make for an interesting game.

Broncos/NFL News

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