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Next men up: Allen Barbre, Zaire Anderson step into bigger roles

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Thursday's injuries to inside linebacker Corey Nelson and right tackle Donald Stephenson robbed the Broncos of some depth. But they didn't leave them staggering.

"We have a lot of depth in this system, so when somebody does go down, I think we have a lot of quality players that can step up," inside linebacker Todd Davis said.

Here's how they plan to fill in for Nelson, who is out for the season with an elbow injury, and Stephenson, who is week-to-week with a calf injury and will be unable to replace Menelik Watson, who will sit out Sunday's game because of a calf injury of his own.



The answer will be veteran Allen Barbre, who started seven games at right tackle for the Green Bay Packers in 2009 and has split time at left guard with Max Garcia so far this season.

"Allen has played right tackle before," right guard Ron Leary said. "He's ready for the challenge and I know he'll do a great job."

Barbre's work on the first team will help ease the transition, especially from a communication standpoint, but he must readjust to the right side, which means his footwork and hand placement will be reversed -- something Leary had to do earlier this year when he shifted from left guard to right guard.

"It's kind of just little things like our communication," Leary said. "When you go to a new position, it's your eyes, your placement and different things like that. We've been working really hard."


With Nelson out for the season, rookie Jerrol Garcia-Williams will be promoted to the 53-man roster, with second-year veteran Zaire Anderson moving up to the No. 3 role behind Brandon Marshall and Davis.

Anderson has played 60 career regular-season defensive snaps, most of which came down the stretch last year as he saw more rotational work while Marshall dealt with hamstring issues.

"He's really ready," Davis said. "I think when you watch the games when he played most of the game, you can see that he came in and did a tremendous job. So I know he's ready. I know he's excited to be able to go this week. I hope he gets out there and does some good things. I know he will."

In preseason games and training-camp practices in recent years, Anderson has had a knack for forcing fumbles, which could come in handy as the Broncos attempt to rediscover their turnover touch.

"I'm definitely looking for a big hit to get a forced fumble or a scoop-and-score," Anderson said. "It's a good opportunity for me to make some plays."

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