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Bronco notes: Speedy veteran John Brown added to practice squad

Former WR star McCaffrey elected to Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, while Broncos readying to induct Mike Shanahan into Ring of Fame.
Credit: AP
Buffalo wide receiver John Brown (15) runs with the ball against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of an NFL football game in Orchard Park, N.Y. The Bills released receiver John Brown and defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson in moves made Wednesday, March 10, 2021, to free up much-needed space under the newly announced salary cap. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Without the speed threat of KJ Hamler and without the separator Jerry Jeudy, the Broncos’ offense lacks a deep threat to keep the back-end of opposing defenses back on their heels.

Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick are big-bodied, possession receivers who are both very good and highly productive in their own right. But they aren’t preventing safeties from crowding the box and, in turn, making it difficult on the Broncos’ running game.

And so the Broncos are taking a look at the most accomplished speed receiver available, John Brown. The Broncos worked out the veteran Brown on Tuesday and then signed him to their practice squad. It’s a bit of a surprise because Brown was diagnosed in 2016 with the sickle cell trait, a red blood cell disorder which can bring on an oxygen deficiency and in some cases become exasperated at high altitude.

After Brown had 42 catches for 715 yards and 5 touchdowns for Baltimore in 2018, the Broncos looked into him as a free agent but didn’t pursue him in part because of  sickle cell concerns. He instead signed a three-year, $27 million contract with Buffalo where in 2019 he had a career-best 72 catches for 1,060 yards. Brown was limited by calf and ankle injuries last year when he slumped to 33 catches for 458 yards in nine games.

Buffalo released Brown in March and he signed a few days later with the Raiders but didn’t make their season-opening roster. Brown has never felt his sickle cell trait has adversely hurt his career and a source close to him says it’s not a concern as he joins the Broncos, whose medical team also thoroughly checked out his situation.

Brown did play one game against the Broncos in Denver, back in 2014 when he had two catches for Arizona.

Although Brown is 31 and has been unemployed the past six weeks, he showed the Broncos during his workout that he is in terrific shape. Speed is always worth a look, especially for a Broncos’ team that has lost Hamler to a season-ending ACL injury and Jeudy for a prolonged period with a high ankle sprain. Jeudy has missed the past four games and will also miss the game Sunday against the Raiders and most likely the following Thursday’s game at Cleveland.

Perhaps by their week 8 game against Washington on Halloween, the Broncos will be able to add both Jeudy and Brown to their offensive arsenal.

To make room for Brown, the Broncos released receiver Josh Malone from their practice squad.

Credit: AP Photo/Ron Schwane

Shanahan, Atwater, McCaffrey honored

The Broncos will formerly induct former head coach Mike Shanahan into their Ring of Fame with a ceremony Friday night at Empower Field at Mile High. At that time, the team will also celebrate the induction of former safety Steve Atwater into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Meanwhile, former receiver Ed McCaffrey – who played for Shanahan and was Atwater’s teammate during the Broncos’ back-to-back Super Bowl-winning teams in 1997-98 – was elected Tuesday into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. 

McCaffrey still ranks No. 5 all-time with 462 receptions and 6,200 receiving yards and his 46 receiving touchdowns ranks fourth.

McCaffrey is currently the head coach of the Northern Colorado football team and together with wife Lisa raised four sons who were local football stars, including Christian who has starred at Stanford and the NFL Carolina Panthers.

Credit: AP
Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Avery Williamson (51) lines up during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Roster moves

Avery Williamson, we never knew you. The veteran linebacker joined the Broncos’ practice squad last week but on Tuesday a source told 9NEWS that Williamson terminated his contract so he could sign on to the active, 53-man roster of the Tennessee Titans where he started his career. Williamson was a four-year starter for the Titans from 2014-17, then played for the Jets and Steelers.

To fill Williamson’s spot, the Broncos are re-signing cornerback Rojesterman Farris back to their practice squad. It’s the third time since August 1 the Broncos have signed Farris, who has also been waived twice by the team.

Bronco Bits

As they do almost every week, the Broncos put four practice squad players on their protected list: Center-guard Austin Schlottmann, receivers Tyrie Cleveland and Seth Williams and linebacker Curtis Robinson. Cleveland was elevated to the game-day roster this past Sunday against the Steelers. Schlottmann has been elevated for the maximum two games. The next time the Broncos need him he will have to be signed on to their 53-man roster. The rookie Williams has been previously protected but has yet to make his NFL debut.

Former Bronco offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo, a second-round draft pick out of Colorado State in 2015, retired after six-plus seasons. Sambrailo started his first three games as a rookie at left tackle for the eventual Super Bowl-champion Broncos but he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in game 3 at Detroit. He then struggled in 2016 and training camp of 2017 before he was traded to the Atlanta Falcons – where he resurrected his career as a part-time starter/top backup tackle and guard.

Sambrailo played four games for the Titans this season before apparently deciding to move on.

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