ENGLEWOOD - Needing reinforcements in their secondary, the Denver Broncos promoted cornerback Taurean Nixon from their practice squad Saturday and released veteran tight end John Phillips.
The Broncos are taking on the prolific passing attack of Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and the Oakland Raiders on Sunday night at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Both teams are 6-2 and the winner will have sole possession of first place in the AFC West.
The Broncos will play without star cornerback Aqib Talib because of his lower back injury and backup corner Kayvan Webster apparently is also doubtful because of a strained hamstring.
That would have left the Broncos with just three corners for the game at Oakland – Chris Harris Jr., Bradley Roby and Lorenzo Doss. Nixon makes four.
Selected in the seventh round of the 2015 draft – one spot after quarterback Trevor Siemian and two rounds after Denver selected Doss, his Tulane teammate – Nixon spent the past 1 ½ regular seasons on the Broncos’ practice squad. He was placed on their 53-man roster in the playoffs last season, although he never dressed for a game.
Nixon was competing for a roster spot this offseason, but a leg injury in training camp thwarted his chances.
Phillips played a huge role for the Broncos in the first half of this season, starting three games and recording 5 catches for 40 yards and a touchdown while rescuing the team’s depleted tight end position. Known more for his blocking, Phillips was a regular on Broncos’ special teams.
He became expendable, though, after Virgil Green and Jeff Heuerman became increasingly healthy and newly acquired tight end A.J. Derby got caught up enough with the Broncos’ playbook to play this week against the Raiders.