David Zalubowski/Associated Press
The Broncos have a talent-rich defensive line. Adding free agent DeMarcus Ware gives them strength on the edge and another pass-rusher to get pressure opposite linebacker Von Miller. In many packages, Miller plays defensive end for the Broncos.
This will cramp the number of defensive linemen the Broncos will keep.
The team is likely to keep eight defensive linemen. Ware, Terrance Knighton, Sylvester Williams and Derek Wolfe should be the starting four. Behind those guys, players like Malik Jackson and Quanterus Smith give the Broncos a fine rotation.
Earlier this offseason, the Broncos made a move that drew little attention when they added free-agent defensive tackle Marvin Austin. The former second-round pick (2012) had failed to live up to his top-10 potential, and he’s bounced around to four teams. Austin has been a standout player in training camp and the preseason for the Broncos, and now he has almost cemented a spot on the 53-man roster.
This means players like Mitch Unrein and Kevin Vickerson could be competing for one spot. Vickerson is still recovering from the hip injury that knocked him out last season. He’s a seasoned veteran with a nasty attitude and a team-first mentality.
Unrein is a favorite of the staff. He has a blue-collar work ethic, and he’s willing to do whatever the team needs him to do. Unrein can rotate in on the defensive line, and he’ll get push as a pass-rusher while also playing strong run defense. He can also get on the field when the offense is out there as the team’s fullback. Unrein can block, run the ball or even catch a pass when the team is near paydirt.
His versatility and lower salary-cap number ($2.2 million for Vickerson, $1.4 million for Unrein) could help him make the final roster in 2014.
All quotes and injury/practice observations obtained firsthand. Record/statistical information provided via email from the Denver Broncos. Contract and salary-cap information provided by Spotrac.com. Transaction history provided by ProSportsTransactions.com.