ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos will be without starters Bradley Roby, Darian Stewart, Brandon Marshall and rookie returner DaeSean Hamilton for their game against the Houston Texans on Sunday.
The Broncos activated safety Su’a Cravens off injured reserve and replaced receiver Isaiah McKenzie with River Cracraft on Friday.
With right tackle Jared Veldheer returning from a knee injury, the Broncos (3-5) finally have the luxury of giving left tackle Garett Bolles some plays off to try to settle him down and break his holding habit. He leads the league with seven flags this season after an NFL-high 10 last year.
The Broncos could either put Veldheer in his spot or move Billy Turner over from the right side.
They’ll replace Roby, who has struggled in his adjustment from nickel back to starter following the offseason trade of Aqib Talib to the Rams, with a mix of veterans Tramaine Brock and Adam Jones and rookie Isaac Yiadom.
Along with Chris Harris Jr., those three will face Texans star DeAndre Hopkins and ex-teammate Demaryius Thomas, who was traded to Houston on Tuesday.
Adams missed practice Friday for non-injury reasons that won’t affect his playing status.
“He’ll be back tonight. He had a family matter,” coach Vance Joseph said. “We got Brock, we’ve got Adam and we’ve got Isaac, outside of Chris, obviously. We’re fine. We’re in good shape and we’ve got four healthy guys for the game.”
Joseph said pass rusher Shane Ray (ankle) looked good in practice and is ready to return to help Von Miller, Bradley Chubb and Shaq Barrett rush the passer Sunday.
“I’ve been proud of how Shane’s rehabbed and how he’s practiced the last two days. He looks fine and ready to go,” Joseph said.
Until now the Broncos were limited in their options for Bolles, who keeps giving up pressures and sacks, and Roby, who keeps allowing too much cushion and big plays by not jamming receivers or playing the ball on deep passes.
Three weeks ago, Joseph said he didn’t fear losing the locker room over his patience with Bolles and Roby, saying, “They all understand we’re playing the best players.” He said Bolles and Roby had to fix their flaws in the glare of games rather than through a benching.
“We have some options now with Jared back and (with) Billy playing at a high level,” Joseph said Friday. “We do have some options there, so we’ll see how the game goes.”
As for Cravens, the Broncos are hoping he’s a wild card for them over the last half of the season.
“He could be. His body type and skill set as a dime backer is valuable because he can play first, second and third down,” Joseph said.
With Marshall’s lingering knee injury, linebacker Alexander Johnson looks to get his first action.
“He’s a guy who wants to play, first of all,” Joseph said. “He’s got a unique body. He’s a big body who can really run. We’ll see how he helps us on teams, and obviously, if he’s playing on defense, we’ll see what happens there. He’s a guy who was eager to play and help us.”
And it’s starting to look as though wide receiver/returner Jordan Taylor, who has been on PUP, might go on season-ending IR next week because he’s not quite 100 percent after offseason double-hip surgery.
“He’s trying to get right for us, but he’s really sore,” Joseph said. “If he was right, he would be able to play, but he’s not right yet.”
The Broncos listed rookie running back Royce Freeman (ankle) as questionable, but Joseph said that with the bye next week, it might be best to keep him out against the Texans (5-3).
By ARNIE STAPLETON, AP Pro Football Writer
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