ENGLEWOOD - The Broncos switched out star defensive players prior to their game Sunday against San Diego.
Cornerback Aqib Talib was scratched because of a lower back injury. Talib missed practice Wednesday and Thursday, returned on Friday, but afterward his back flared up again.
On Saturday, the Broncos and Talib were going back and forth on whether he could play. Saturday was also when the Broncos decided Ware would play.
"He practiced Friday, it was a good day,'' Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak said of Talib. "He came back and it tightened up on him Saturday. We took a look at him this morning and just felt like we had to do the smart thing. We're hoping he's back this week.''
Talib is dealing with a disc issue, sources told 9NEWS. He does not need surgery now, although that could be an option after the season.
Webster injured, Doss delivers
With Talib down, nickelback Bradley Roby started at left corner and Kayvon Webster replaced Roby at nickelback. But on the Chargers’ touchdown drive on their first possession, Webster aggravated his past hamstring injury.
That meant Lorenzo Doss, the No. 5 cornerback who had been inactive in six of the first seven games, was moved up to the nickel slot.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers went after Doss, but last year’s fifth-round draft pick from Tulane held his own. Doss, in fact, broke up a third quarter pass by Rivers intended for Travis Benjamin, knocking the ball up in the air so teammate Darian Stewart could intercept and return it 25 yards to the Chargers’ 25.
Two Devonate Booker carries later, the Broncos had a second touchdown off an interception – Roby’s 49-yard pick six in the second quarter was the first.
Later in the third quarter, though, Rivers barely got a pass over Doss and into finger-tip range of Benjamin, who made a terrific, one-handed twisting catch for a 14-yard touchdown that narrowed the Broncos’ lead to 17-13 (the extra point was blocked).
The Broncos could have scored possibly 10 more points but twice they fumbled the ball away on plays that started inside the San Diego 10. On the first, Broncos quarterback
Trevor Siemian had third-and-6 at the 7 when he was strip-sacked by Melvin Ingram.
After Broncos safety T.J. Ward intercepted Rivers on the series after Stewart’s pick, the Broncos’ offense had first-and-goal at the 7. Booker was tackled for a 4-yard loss on the first pass, but he then caught a short pass from Siemian and as he got to the 2-yard line, the running back switched hands with the ball as if he was getting ready to lunge for the goal line. As he did, the ball was knocked loose and San Diego recovered at its own 2.
Broncos general manager John Elway could be in the market for a defensive lineman and possibly a running back by the 2 p.m. trading deadline Tuesday. The Denver defense has struggled at times against the run this season and Chargers' running back Melvin Gordon rushed for 111 yards on 23 carries Sunday. Entering play, Denver's defense ranked No. 3 in the NFL overall, but was 21st against the run.
Elway has already made one move, acquiring tight end A.J. Derby last week from New England in exchange for a fifth-round pick. Derby didn't dress Sunday as he needs more than three days to pick up the Broncos' offensive system.
Ward’s sack of Rivers in the first quarter gave him at least one in each of the past six seasons – the only NFL defensive back to have such a run.
Besides Ward, the Broncos got sacks from Von Miller, Jared Crick and Justin Simmons. Crick also swatted away two Rivers' passes at the line of scrimmage. ...
Ward was the Broncos' leading tackler for a second consecutive game. He had 10, plus a sack, an interception, a pass deflection and two quarterback hits. Ward and Wesley Woodyard (2012) are the only Bronco players to have 10 tackles, a sack and an interception in the same game since 1994. ...
Kubiak gave linebackers Reggie Herring the game ball for filling in as defensive play-caller when coordinator Wade Phillips left the game in the second quarter following a sideline collision. "When it happened, I got on the headset a couple of times and he told me to shut the hell up and get off the headset,'' Kubiak said.
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