ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the Broncos approach a matchup with the Colts and the foreseeable future without running back Javonte Williams or outside linebacker Randy Gregory, they'll now rely on the rest of their roster to step up.
At running back, following Williams' season-ending knee injury, the Broncos could feature Melvin Gordon III and Mike Boone, who each received three carries during Sunday's game. Gordon lost a fumble during the game that was returned for a touchdown, but Hackett said he was confident in Gordon's ability to rebound. Gordon, who has scored at least eight touchdowns in each of the last six seasons, has carried the ball 37 times for 139 yards and a touchdown in 2022.
"Melvin's a true pro," Hackett said Monday. "This is a guy that's been doing this a long time. He's harder on himself than anybody. He's part of our team. We love the guy. He knows that there was a mishap right there, and it's a great opportunity for him to get right back out onto the field and prove himself, and we're excited to be a part of that and put him in great positions to be able to make plays. We'll watch him do some good things. He had our first touchdown two weeks ago. I thought he ran real hard. He's run the ball really well. He's going downhill, he's exploding through the hole. We want to see that continue. Like I said, he's a true pro, and I expect him to step up and have a great game."
Boone, who could also see an elevated role, received his first carries of the season against the Raiders. He posted a career-high 273 yards and three touchdowns in 2019. The Broncos also have Devine Ozigbo on their practice squad.
Along the edge, the Broncos could rotate in Baron Browning and Nik Bonitto opposite of Bradley Chubb. Browning has yet to record a sack since switching over to outside linebacker this offseason, and Bonitto is in the early stages of his rookie season. Reserve outside linebacker Aaron Patrick is in the concussion protocol, while Jonathon Cooper was estimated as a non-participant with a hamstring injury.
Chubb may also need to shoulder more of the burden after a strong start to the season. The fifth-year player has recorded three sacks and a forced fumble in the first four games.
Despite the challenge, Hackett believes the roster is up to the challenge of replacing a pair of key starters.
"It's one of those things, this is part of football — it's a physical game," Hackett said. "You can't deny there's certain things we can't control. As a team, we're going to band together, and we're going to step it up and get better. Whoever has the opportunity to go in has to embrace it and be excited for it and play the best they've ever played."
SURTAIN HOLDS HIS OWN
Facing a talented Raiders offense, cornerback Pat Surtain II may have drawn the toughest matchup.
The 2021 ninth-overall pick was tabbed to shadow two-time first-team All-Pro receiver Davante Adams for most of the game, and the young cornerback more than held his own. According to Next Gen Stats, Surtain followed Adams on 71 percent of his routes and allowed just four catches for 46 yards on eight targets. He also recorded a pair of pass breakups.
"I think he did a really good job," Hackett said. "He's going against arguably one of the best in the business. He didn't shy away from anything, I thought he competed all day. He had a couple pass breakups. It was great to see him step up to that. He was up to the challenge. He didn't talk a lot. Just went out there and played. ... What makes him so great is, like we talked about last week, he's just a humble player who wants to go out and be great."
Hackett said the Broncos' decision to have Surtain shadow Adams was specific to the game plan, and he noted that the Broncos have many options with their scheme when Surtain is on the field.
"With Pat, you can pretty much do anything," Hackett said. "You can put him inside, you can put him all over the place. For us it's about what we're going to do schematically and how we're going to handle each defense. Every week it changes, so that very well could be something that we want to do. And we can leave him where he is, we can do all kinds of different things. We don't really want to give away anything, but in the end, I know that the defensive staff has done a really good job, and they're going to continue to put the guys in the best position to be successful."
HAMLER'S BIG MOMENT
Wide receiver KJ Hamler played just four snaps on Sunday, but he made the most of the opportunity.
On a critical fourth-quarter drive, Hamler showed his speed down the middle of the field and hauled in a 55-yard pass from Russell Wilson that set up a touchdown.
The day after the impressive play, Hackett said he expects Hamler's role in the offense to continue to grow.
"With KJ, I thought he stepped up and made a huge play, and I was so happy to see that," Hackett said. "He's somebody that we've got to get more involved in the game plans. Every game's a little bit different for everybody that's out there. Sometimes they play more or less by game — it's all about how we want to attack a defense. I'm really glad that happened, because that kind of got him and Russ in sync a little bit. I thought it was a really good thrown ball. I just wish he would've caught it and ran in the end zone for him. I'm excited to see KJ start coming on."