Denver Broncos | News

Updating the rookies as the Broncos return from the bye


When necessary, Head Coach Gary Kubiak is willing to lean on his youngest players.

But injuries have kept Kubiak from relying even more on the six rookies who dot the Broncos' active roster.

What have they done, and what could be next? As the Broncos get back to work after their bye, let's take a look at where the rookies stand.


LT TY SAMBRAILO** Games played:3
Total snaps:230 (215 on offense, 15 on special teams)

Prior to injuring his shoulder late in the Week 3 win over the Lions, Sambrailo was starting to stabilize at left tackle after some struggles in the first two weeks of the regular season.

Aided by increased utilization of pistol and shotgun formations, the offense had stabilized after struggling in Week 1 and early in Week 2, accounting for 48 points over a 96-minute span -- a 30.0-points-per-60-minutes pace. The offense has not matched that production since then, averaging 19.3 points per 60 minutes, and although all of that cannot be attributed to Sambrailo's injury, it hasn't helped the line's quest to build cohesion and consistency.

The pain in Sambrailo's shoulder has ebbed, and he took his first team-period repetitions since the injury during last Tuesday's practice. Further, he remained engaged in the game plan during his absence and traveled to every game.

"It keeps you involved in kind of the whole process," Sambrailo said. "You go to the meetings the night before the game. You sit through what the game plan is and what we're trying to do. When you're sitting at home watching it on TV, you don't necessarily get those meetings and get those talks about what we're looking for and what we're trying to attack.

"I think being able to do that and kind of stay in the mind frame of approaching it like I'm going to be playing, even though I'm not, has been very helpful."


OLB SHANE RAY** Games played:6
Total snaps:107 (97 on defense, 10 on special teams)

Along with Shaquil Barrett, Ray has maximized his limited opportunities, but like Sambrailo, faces an injury detour.

Until he suffered a torn medial collateral ligament against the Browns, the Broncos' first-round pick was off to a promising start, with two sacks in the first five games of the regular season. Ray worked mostly in relief of DeMarcus Ware as the weakside outside linebacker, usually rushing from the right side.

Ray has worked to shore up his work against the run since being caught out of position on Jamaal Charles' 34-yard touchdown jaunt in Week 2. As he improves in that area, he will become a true every-down player. But Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips has been willing to use Ray in every situation, and not just as a pass rusher. When he returns, he will have opportunities to build on his progress.


NT DARIUS KILGO** Games played:5
Total snaps:76 (75 on defense, one on special teams)

After playing 35 snaps in the first two regular-season games -- including a season-high 22 in the Week 1 win over the Ravens -- Kilgo played seven, 19 and 14 defensive snaps against the Lions, Vikings and Raiders, respectively, before being deactivated in Cleveland.

Kilgo has looked stout in the snaps he's received, and remains a crucial insurance policy behind starter Sylvester Williams.

But it will be interesting to monitor how Kilgo's playing time breaks down going forward. He was inactive at Cleveland last week as the Broncos opted to give Kenny Anunike a look as the sixth defensive lineman, and with Ray recovering from his MCL injury, Anunike is also in the picture to see some rotational snaps at outside linebacker. Vance Walker can work at nose tackle, and the Broncos have made extensive use of three-cornerback, three-safety packages that include two defensive linemen flanked by a pair of outside linebackers.


G MAX GARCIA** Games played:6
Total snaps:59 (27 on offense, 32 on special teams)

Kubiak's plan to give Garcia some extended work came to fruition against Cleveland, when he played a season-high 15 snaps in relief of Evan Mathis, who missed all of the week's practices because of a hamstring injury.

Garcia remains firmly in the long-term plans, and at some point -- perhaps by next year -- he should emerge as a full-time starter. But for now, he will continue to learn his craft behind Mathis.

Games played:2
Total snaps:3 (all on special teams)

The speedy ballhawk has a bright long-term future, but with the Broncos' top four cornerbacks enjoying good health for most of the first six games, he hasn't had the opportunity to see much work. The Broncos' emphasis on dime packages with three safeties to get David Bruton Jr. on the field also limits potential opportunities for Doss, because it would take two cornerback injuries to get him involved in the nickel package.

Games played:0
Total snaps:0

Barring an injury to Peyton Manning and/or Brock Osweiler, this is a developmental year for the seventh-round pick. For the moment, he learns by listening to the coach-quarterback communications and runs the scout team in practice.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content