ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — It isn’t necessarily the fill-in players at the outside linebacker position that must replace the quarterback pressure Bradley Chubb provided.
Just in time, DeMarcus Walker is coming on as an interior pass rusher.
"It’s very hard losing him," Walker said of Chubb, who learned Monday he had suffered a season-ending ACL injury. "Me and Chubb have grown closer here in the last year. We were always talking to one another, it definitely hit me when I found out. We just want to do it for him and step it up a notch."
Walker’s progress since he was the Broncos’ second-round pick in the 2017 draft was initially slow, but he started playing on game day in this, his third season. And Sunday he got his first sack of the season against Jacksonville quarterback Gardner Minshew.
It wasn’t an accidental sack, either, where Minshew happened to scramble into him.
"It wasn’t like a cover sack, I actually beat the guy in front of me," Walker said. "I’m ready to compete and show these guys why I was picked two.
"After that play, everything’s elevated. Confidence is the biggest thing. Just my film-watching now, just the work I’m putting in, it’s finally unfolding. I’m definitely excited for the future, put my best foot forward and get ready for the Chargers."
Ja’Wuan James practices
For the first time since suffering a sprained left knee on the 10th offensive play in the Broncos’ season opener at Oakland, right tackle Ja’Wuan James participated with the team on a limited basis Wednesday.
It would be a surprise if James, who is on the books for $17 million this year in salary and signing bonus, plays this Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. But there is a chance he could be ready the following week for the week 6 game against the Tennessee Titans on October 13 in Denver.
Starting safety/slot cornerback Kareem Jackson also practiced on a limited basis after missing the game Sunday against Jacksonville with a hamstring injury.
Inside linebacker Josey Jewell did not practice Wednesday because of his hamstring.
The tackling presence of Jackson and Jewell were missed in the second half against Jacksonville when the Denver D surrendered 229 rushing yards – 190 to running back Leonard Fournette.
Phillip Lindsay and Christian McCaffrey you knew about as Colorado-raised NFL running backs. The Chargers’ Austin Eckler of Eaton was lesser known but he has taken advantage of Chargers’ No. 1 running Back Melvin Gordon’s holdout to become a Fantasy League surprise this season with three touchdowns rushing, three touchdowns receiving and 490 combined yards rushing and receiving.
Suddenly, Colorado has become a hotbed for NFL running backs.
"I feel like there’s a lot of good talent here in Colorado," Lindsay said. "You just have to give it an opportunity and give it a chance. There is just so many kids in California and Texas that you get overshadowed, but if you’re good, you’re good."
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