By Zack Kelberman
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (247 SPORTS) – The Denver Broncos are welcoming reinforcement to the secondary.
Safety Su’a Cravens, who missed the first eight games after undergoing preseason knee surgery, practiced in full Wednesday and is expected to play Sunday against the Houston Texans.
Wide receiver Jordan Taylor, on the mend from bilateral hip surgery, also practiced, though it’s unclear if he’ll suit up in Week 9.
The Broncos have an open roster spot following Tuesday’s trade of WR Demaryius Thomas. They must create another to squeeze both Cravens and Taylor on the 53.
“Those guys are ready to come up to the roster so a move has to be made to get them up,” head coach Vance Joseph said.
Cravens was banished to IR on Sept. 2 following corrective surgery for a knee issue that flared up in August. The 22-year-old underwent a procedure last year, while a member of the Washington Redskins, to repair a meniscus tear. He was sidelined for the duration of training camp and much of the preseason due to the creaky knee. Cravens appeared in the Broncos’ exhibition finale, recording three tackles, before being shut down.
“Su’a played really well Thursday,” head coach Vance Joseph said on Sept. 3. “He looked explosive, he tackled well, he looked good in space. As a high safety, he looked really good. I was really impressed with Su’a, and I was hoping his knee would respond the right way so he could play for us on Sunday, but it did not. He needs a scope to get it cleaned out. He’ll be back in hopefully two months.”
A linebacker-safety coverage specialist, Cravens was acquired in March via trade with the Redskins. He has three years remaining on his rookie contract, which tolled after a brief retirement spell last season, carrying base salaries of $651,408, $852,816 and $1,054,224 for 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. The Broncos repeatedly talked him up as a potential solution to their longstanding woes against opposing tight ends.
“He’s a perfect fit for what we’re seeing now from offenses,” Joseph said Wednesday. “He’s excited, healthy and wants to help.”
Will Parks has since worked as the “dimebacker” in sub packages, behind starting safeties Justin Simmons and Darian Stewart. Dymonte Thomas has also seen extended reps. Cravens’ return could spell the end for reserve Shamarko Thomas, as Denver wouldn’t need to carry five safeties.
A potential starter in place of Stewart, who’s battling a third neck stinger, Cravens’ addition will boost a struggling Denver defense, which ranks 14th in points, 22nd in total yards, 11th in passing and 27th in rushing.
“Oh, that’s going to be huge,” cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. “He’s a playmaker.”