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Mile High Morning: Why Randy Gregory's debut bodes well for the Broncos' defense in 2022


The Lead

Randy Gregory's performance was largely overshadowed by other storylines from the Broncos' Week 1 game against the Seahawks, but the pass rusher looked excellent in his Broncos debut.

Despite missing the offseason program while recovering from shoulder and knee surgeries, ESPN’s Jeff Legwold noted that Gregory looked strong and explosive in Week 1. He made a number of plays throughout the game, frequently putting pressure on Geno Smith.

"Gregory played 26 snaps and flashed some of the impact in the pass rush the Broncos want to see on a consistent basis," Legwold wrote. "He also stripped receiver DK Metcalf of the ball and positioned himself to keep upping the snap counts as he goes."

According to Pro Football Focus’s game grades, Gregory ranked as the Broncos' second-best defender on Monday. In just 14 pass-rushing snaps, he recorded a team-high four quarterback hurries.

Bradley Chubb, who also performed well with two sacks, was impressed with what he saw from Gregory against the Seahawks. In their first game action together, they showed a glimpse in Week 1 of how impactful they can be.

"[Gregory] was huge," Chubb said. "You saw him on the first drive, he pushed [rookie tackle Charles Cross] back and got into the lap of Geno [Smith] and kind of set the tone for me and for us as edge rushers. … When you have a guy like that rushing on the other side, you just want to beat him to the quarterback. You want to be the first one there. He pushes me, he pushes everybody on that defensive line. It's great to have him back.''

Legwold outlined the pass rush's depth behind Gregory and Chubb, noting the contributions that Baron Browning, Jonathon Cooper and Nik Bonitto could make as they are rotated in.

"The opener was just a snapshot of what the rotation on the defensive edge will be, especially if Gregory gets closer to the 46 snaps Chubb played in the game," Legwold wrote. "Baron Browning played 33 snaps and Jonathon Cooper played six. Rookie Nik Bonitto, who was the only defensive player in uniform who did not play a snap on defense or on special teams against the Seahawks, also figures to work his way into the mix at some point."

If Gregory and Chubb both continue to play at a high level as they did on Monday, Legwold noted, they have potential to be a dynamic unit for the Broncos in 2022.

Below the Fold

The Broncos' defense did not produce many fantasy points in Week 1, but’s Michael Florio expects them to rebound in Week 2. He advises fantasy managers to start Denver's defense against the Texans.  

"The Broncos had a good matchup in Week 1 against Seattle and failed to take advantage, scoring just five fantasy points as they picked up two sacks and a fumble recovery," Florio wrote. "But they get another chance in a favorable matchup against the Texans. Houston allowed three sacks and a fumble recovery in Week 1 against the Colts and allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing defenses last season. If you streamed them in Week 1, you can go back to the well in Week 2."

The Unclassifieds

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