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Mile High Morning: OLB Baron Browning emerging as a reliable threat for the Broncos' defense 


The Lead

In another strong performance by the Broncos' defense against the Chargers on Monday night, several players had a significant impact — but perhaps none more than outside linebacker Baron Browning. 

After moving from inside to outside linebacker in Year 2, Browning has taken his game to a new level. Monday night was no exception, as the second-year player out of Ohio State tallied a sack, two tackles for loss, two passes defensed and his first career interception against a talented Chargers offense. 

His sack of Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert came in the second quarter, forcing Los Angeles into a third-and-17 in the red zone. In the fourth quarter, Browning picked off a pass intended for Chargers tight end Gerald Everett — a play that eventually led to a field goal for the Broncos. 

"I feel pretty comfortable," Browning said after the game. "… I feel like that's a credit to Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory helping me out a lot with the transition, and just being guys I can call or text to ask questions or go over to their crib to watch film." 

Per Next Gen Stats, Browning sacked Herbert just 2.70 seconds after the snap. The Broncos' average time to sack (3.76 seconds) is by far the fastest in the NFL this season — no other defense averages under four seconds. 

The Broncos' defense is tied for fourth in the league with 19 sacks so far this season, and Browning has played a large role in the pass rush's success. Denver lost a prolific edge rusher when they placed Gregory on injured reserve, but Browning has ensured that the Broncos haven't missed a beat. Despite starting just one game this season, Browning has recorded 2.5 sacks, an interception, two passes defensed, 11 total tackles — five of which were tackles for loss — and seven quarterback hits.

The Broncos have found a talented pass rusher in Browning, and the young outside linebacker is elevating his game each week.

Below the Fold

Offensive lineman Billy Turner took his first snaps as a Bronco on Monday night, and Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett said that Turner played well after not seeing game action for a long time. 

"I think Billy came in and he did a good job, especially for not playing football a lot [recently] — going all the way back to when we were back at Green Bay together," Hackett said Wednesday. "I thought he competed and did some good things. Obviously, he's a little bit rusty because it was his first time out there, but we're going to keep working through that and we're going to try to get as much continuity as we can there." 

Hackett also expressed his appreciation for tackle Cam Fleming's ability to move around on the offensive line, noting that his flexibility to play multiple positions is a huge benefit for the team. 

"I give so much respect to him and so much credit to him — coming in here late and then being able to get out there at right tackle, play at a high level, and at the same time to bump him over to the left," Hackett said. "I thought he did a fine job. Both those guys have been able to step in and do well. Again, to play both sides is obviously difficult and that's something that we're lucky to have."

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