While the focus is on Von Miller and Chris Harris rehabbing ACL injuries, denverbroncos.com’s Andrew Mason takes a look at other defenders coming off injury who could strengthen the Broncos’ defense, including free safety Quinton Carter and pass rusher Quanterus Smith.
Carter, who has missed most of the last two seasons because of knee and hamstring problems, looked promising as a rookie in 2011, but has since been passed on the depth chart by Rahim Moore. With Moore and T.J. Ward holding down starting spots and Duke Ihenacho and special teams captain David Bruton providing depth, Omar Bolden could be on the bubble. A healthy Carter could create an interesting storyline if he’s able to push Moore, as both are free agents at year’s end.
In the case of Smith, he was one of the most productive pass rushers in college football in 2012 before a late-season torn ACL knocked him down to the fifth round. After a “redshirt” 2013, the 6-5, 255-pounder is poised to earn reps in passing situations. Said defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio: “On tape coming out, we liked [Smith’s] athleticism, his length, his ability to bend and his ability to rush the quarterback. So those are things we’re looking forward to seeing from him.”
Here’s a few more AFC West notes:
- In a Chiefs mailbag, ESPN’s Adam Teicher said third-round cornerback Phillip Gaines “is insurance in 2015 for Brandon Flowers, who is also expensive and may not be a good fit for what the Chiefs are doing on defense.” Flowers has three years remaining on a six-year, $49.35MM deal ($22MM guaranteed), though he struggled adapting to defensive coordinator’s Bob Sutton’s press-man responsibilities (his -9.8 pass coverage rating was the worst on the team, according to Pro Football Focus), and his name surfaced in trade rumors around draft time.
- Chiefs Rookie quarterback Aaron Murray, drafted in the fifth round after tearing his ACL in November, could be stashed on IR, says Teicher. Behind starter Alex Smith, the Chiefs have veteran backup Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray and Murray, though Teicher doesn’t see keeping all three or utilizing a practice squad spot as viable options.
- Fullback Anthony Sherman has flourished in Andy Reid’s West Coast offense, writes Pro Football Focus’ Matt Claassen. According to PFF, Sherman had an outstanding season as a run blocker, was an opportunistic as a receiver and served as a productive, core special teams player.
- Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com provides a projected starting lineup for the Chargers. In his accompanying thoughts, Rosenthal calls tight end Ladarius Green a potential breakout player. Meanwhile, in a fan chat for the team’s website, GM Tom Telesco explained why less than ideal measurables didn’t prevent them from drafting cornerback Jason Verrett — who is expected to start from Day One — and nose tackle Ryan Carrethers.
- In a review of the Raiders’ offseason, ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez praises GM Reggie McKenzie for not overthinking and letting the draft come to him, particularly with top picks Khalil Mack and Derek Carr. Gutierrez also credits McKenzie for not overpaying for veteran free agents while creating a “strong enough locker room to withstand a wild card or two,” i.e. the addition of Greg Little.
- Accordingly, Rosenthal says, “No team had a more dramatic overhaul this offseason,” as he projects the Raiders’ starting lineup. In his supplemental notes, Rosenthal calls free agent offensive tackle Donald Penn a boom-or-bust signing and says there’s reason to worry about the secondary, particularly if 2013 first-rounder D.J. Hayden doesn’t elevate his game.