In need of some reinforcements along their defensive line, the Broncos today worked out free agent tackle Henry Melton, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Melton hasn’t drawn any other known interest since his contract with the Buccaneers expired in March.
Denver was already reeling from the offseason loss of Malik Jackson, and the man set to replace him, Vance Walker, suffered a torn ACL last week and was subsequently placed on injured reserve. Starting defensive end Derek Wolfe recently rolled his ankle, but apparently not seriously enough to cause any major absence, as he played in last night’s preseason contest against the 49ers. Free agent signee Jared Crick is now set to start opposite Wolfe, but Melton could offer a reserve pass-rushing presence at both end and tackle if signed.
Melton, 29, has settled into more of a rotational role in recent years, and is no longer the dominant interior presence he was during his early career with the Bears. But he still appeared in all 16 games for Tampa Bay last season, playing on roughly half of the Bucs’ defensive snaps. In that time, Melton picked up two sacks, 18 tackles, and recovered two fumbles, but only graded as the league’s No. 101 interior defender among 123 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. The former Texas Longhorn earned an honorable mention on PFR’s May list of the best remaining free agent defenders.
While Melton is auditioning for a spot on Denver’s roster, fellow defensive lineman Billy Winn already has one, and he could end up making the team due to the club’s injuries up front, as Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post tweets. Winn was signed last month after the Broncos released Phil Taylor from IR, and he played early in Friday’s preseason contest.
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