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Cravens hopes his return will provide the edge the Broncos need

Photos from team photographers of the Broncos' on-field preparation for their Week 9 battle against the Texans.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — When Su'a Cravens returns to the field, the first ball carrier he meets better brace himself.

After spending more than two months recovering from a torn meniscus, Cravens finally feels ready to make his regular-season debut for the Broncos. All that time has made him restless, and that first hit will be a much-anticipated first bit of catharsis.

"I'm going to try to blast somebody," Cravens said Wednesday. "I've got to, it's been eight weeks, so I've got some built up frustration."

Cravens, who returned to practice on Oct. 15, remains on injured reserve currently, but all signs seem to point to his impending return to the active roster.

"Su'a's been good for about a week and a half," Head Coach Vance Joseph said Wednesday. "Obviously [Cravens and WR Jordan Taylor] are ready to come up to the roster, so a move has to be made to get them up. We'll see."

The recovery process has been a slow one. Cravens battled knee soreness throughout training camp, and after the knee didn't respond well after his only preseason action in the finale, the Broncos placed him on injured reserve just before the season began.

But this wait hasn't even just been months in the making. It's been years. Cravens hasn't played a regular-season game since Dec. 11, 2016.

"It's a year and a half overdue now," Cravens said. "I was ready to play Week 1, then an injury comes up. I had a torn meniscus the whole time, not even knowing. It's all been a part of God's plan. It's my time now, so I'll take advantage of it."

In the meantime, Cravens didn't relax. When he wasn't doing rehab, he took part in defensive meetings.

"I've been doing the exact same schedule besides playing," Cravens said. "I'm glad that I'm getting rewarded with playing now. I'm looking forward to that."

So are the Broncos. As veteran safety Darian Stewart continues to recover from a series of stingers he suffered over the past month, the Broncos would welcome Cravens back to add to their secondary depth.

"I think Su'a is a natural, in-the-box dime linebacker," Joseph said. "With all the passing game you're seeing on first and second down out of three-wide [formations], he's a perfect fit for what we're seeing now from offenses. We'll see how the week goes, but he's excited, he's healthy and he wants to help."

The impact could be immediate, and Cravens isn't the only one who's excited for see him back in action.

"Oh, it's going to be huge," cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. "He's a playmaker. To get a guy that's a big body like him — he's a great blitzer — he can play the run and, also, he [has the] big body size that can guard the tight ends too. Just another big body. He's going to be huge. A lot of times he's going to play right next to me. So, I'll try to slow the game down for him, communicate with him a lot and make it easier for him."

Cravens anticipates his addition will help the Broncos stay consistent in their formation, so even when opponents line up with three wide receivers, Denver can feel comfortable staying in a package that can defend the pass and the run equally with the same personnel group.

And with how competitive the Broncos have been, Cravens is hoping his talent and the strategic advantage of his presence can give the defense the extra edge they need to return to the win column.

"We have ballers everywhere on defense," Cravens said. "I just feel like we're not making every play that we should make. We're leaving a lot of plays out there and a lot of our games have come down to one score.

"Hopefully, I can be the one that comes in and picks up those plays that we're missing on and that's what we need to get this ball rolling."

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