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Knighton: 'That's What I'm Here For'

Posted Nov 27, 2013

Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton acknowledged that losing Kevin Vickerson to injured reserve is 'a major blow,' but he expects to step his game up even further to make up for his absence.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Terrance Knighton is ready.

He knows what losing Kevin Vickerson to injured reserve with a hip injury does to the rotation at defensive tackle.

"Him not being there puts more on my plate," Knighton said. "But I'm prepared for it."

This season, no Broncos defensive tackle has played more snaps than Knighton. His 412 account for 51.1 percent of the total defensive snaps.

Through 11 games, the fifth-year pro has accumulated 20 tackles, three sacks, six quarterback hits, three tackles for loss and his first career fumble recovery just last week against the New England Patriots.

Does he believe teams will block him differently with Vickerson sidelined?

"Honestly, yeah," he said. "But I expect Mitch (Unrein) and Sly (Williams) to make plays for us to keep this thing rolling."

Knighton said he understands his role as a veteran leader on the line, and defensive captain Wesley Woodyard said he has no doubt that "T-Knight is going to get those boys right."

To this point, Unrein has the next-most defensive snaps among the tackles, having battled in the trenches on 27.5 percent of the reps. Williams, who has played in eight games, saw more than 40 percent of the team's defensive snaps against New England -- his highest ratio of the season.

The team also added defensive tackle Sione Fua to fill Vickerson's roster spot Wednesday morning.

"We’re fortunate that we have some good big people in there that we count to control the line of scrimmage for us,” Interim Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio said after Wednesday's practice.

Still, Del Rio acknowledged that Vickerson was playing as well as he had all season just before his injury.

"I think it's a major blow," Knighton said. "He gets us going up front. He's our leader in the D-line room. But that's what I'm here for. That's why they drafted Sly. Mitch has played a lot of good ball. So we just have to pick up the slack. Everybody has to do their job plus a little bit more."

Knighton said that while their statistics didn't compare to the likes of Houston's J.J. Watt or Cincinnati's Geno Atkins -- who is also on injured reserve -- he believes that the tandem he created with Vickerson was playing better than any other interior duo in the league.

Now he wants to make sure he keeps that production going to help honor a player he has built a relationship with both on and off the field.

"He expects me to play a lot better and he wants me to and I'm definitely going to go out there and play hard for him," Knighton said. "If the roles were switched, he would do the same.

"I expect a lot of juice from the guys up front."