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Sylvester Williams and nose tackles showing their strength in preseason


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — **With 12 sacks by 11 players through two games, the Broncos have gotten to quarterbacks at a league-leading rate with sacks on 17.4 percent of their opponents' passing attempts. And not only that, the nose tackles are getting in on the action to a higher degree than any other position to this point. Sure the sample size is tiny, but the impact has been revealing.

But Sylvester Williams knows that he and his fellow men in the middle won't keep outpacing the edge rushers once they play at full strength when the regular season begins. After Saturday's game against the Texans in which Williams, Darius Kilgo and Chuka Ndulue combined for 2.5 sacks, Williams said with a laugh that he certainly won't be teasing Von Miller or DeMarcus Ware about it.

"We know when the regular season comes, we know where the shine is going to come from," Williams said Monday. "We just take our shine where we can."

The nose tackles had plenty of shine on Saturday getting so much pressure, and not just on the quarterback as they held the Texans to 71 yards rushing for a 3.0-yards-per-carry average. Williams' sack in the second quarter didn't come from the nose but the three-technique lineman position, but it kicked off the nose tackles' strong night. The depth has been on full display, especially with Kilgo leading the Broncos in sacks (2, tied with Shaquil Barrett) and in sack yards (20), and their ability to move around and play different positions allows the defense and the players within it to mix up the looks they give the opposing offensive lines.

"I think the versatility is going to help us out a lot and also we've got depth," Williams said. "We've got guys that could start almost anywhere in the league. We've got Vance, we've got Kilgo, we've got Kenny coming back early. So I think overall, we're going to be pretty good. And like I said, and the thing about us is all of us really can play all three positions on the defensive line, so I think that's going to help us out a lot."

From Osweiler's 57-yard TD pass to the game-winning TD reception by Corbin Louks, here are our very best photos from the Broncos' 14-10 win over the Texans. (Photos by Eric Bakke unless otherwise noted)

Of course this is still just the preseason and two games is hardly a substantial sample size for big-scale conclusions, but Williams feels that the new defensive scheme that changes how the nose tackle works is a boon for him.

"I think it just more so that you can focus," Williams said of the change. "It's a one-gap scheme vs. playing two-gap. It's more of a one-gap scheme so you can kind of penetrate a little bit more and, like I said, play your gap better."

With the change to a 3-4 front, the base package puts five men on the line and leaves two inside linebackers at the second level, but Williams doesn't think that really changes the defense a whole lot.

"It's really pretty much the same defense we was kind of in; we just don't two-gap anymore,"Williams said. "The biggest thing is that those guys are big-time players. Y'all seen how Brandon played last game. I mean, the biggest thing is I think we're going to be all right up front. I really do. And like I said, we're going to continue to get better every day and make adjustments when needed."

In that sense, how the nose tackles attack the gaps makes them more aggressive players, and in his third season, Williams is eager to fulfill his potential as a former first-round pick. With the free-agent departure of nose tackle Terrance Knighton during the offseason, Williams has a new opportunity to be the main force holding down the interior of the defensive line.

"I'm excited about the opportunity that I was able to get this year after Terrance leaving," Williams said. "I just want to get better every day and hopefully I can fill the gap."

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