Head Coach Gary Kubiak wants to get 2014 first-round pick Bradley Roby on the field more -- and that could entail some snaps at safety.
"That has come up. Here's how it comes up: we're going to get our best players on the field," Kubiak said. Percentage-wise last year, he did not play a whole lot. He played nickel and those types of things."
With Roby's use limited mostly to No. 3 cornerback in the nickel package and occasional use in the base defense in place of Chris Harris Jr. or Aqib Talib, Roby played 75.1 percent of the defensive snaps last year (805) -- fifth-most among Broncos defensive backs but seventh-most overall among the defense, effectively making him a starter.
But in three of the Broncos' last eight regular-season games, Roby played less than 60 percent of the snaps. In Week 11, he played just 25 of 65 snaps (38.5 percent) against the ground-intensive Rams. He played 37 of 63 snaps (58.7) in Week 16 at Cincinnati and 40 of 75 snaps (53.3 percent) in the playoff loss to Indianapolis.
Current Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio often spoke of the No. 3 cornerback essentially being a starter in terms of actual playing time during his three years as the Broncos' defensive coordinator. Kubiak expects that trend to continue.
"I think when you look at our division, I don't know if I'm 100 percent right now, but we're probably going to play a lot more nickel than we do base defense," Kubiak said. "but when we do play base defense against teams that play a lot more base offense, you don't want him (Roby) standing there on the sidelines.
"He's a fine player and so the talk is getting him some safety work and him having the ability to play the safety position. He's a physical player. It's just us saying, 'Hey, he needs to be out there.' If that's how we get him out there full-time, than that's something we're going to address."
A dual role as base-package safety and nickel cornerback is not without precedent; recent Jets free-agent signee Marcus Gilchrist handled that with the Chargers in recent years.
Roby would appear to have the instincts to see some snaps as safety. Last summer at training camp, when he endured some typical rookie struggles as he worked on his pass coverage, the first signs of assertive play came when he attacked run plays on the edge, an ability he carried over into preseason games. That work helped build a foundation of confidence that carried over into his work against the pass and contributed to his solid rookie campaign.
"I don't want do too much to him where we take something away from him," Kubiak said. "But at the same time he needs to be a guy to play 70-100 percent someway, somehow as a football player for our team."
Check out the best shots of the DBs from 2014 -- including Bradley Roby's game-sealing PBU in Week 1.