The Patriots are struggling with injuries in their cornerbacks room, so the organization added two players to the practice squad for reinforcement. Borders has the most experience, with the veteran appearing in 32 games since entering the league in 2017. He only got into a single game for the Bears in 2022, but he did appear in 12 games with the Titans and Cardinals in 2021. Hearn had a stint with the Chargers after going undrafted out of UCLA in this year’s draft.
The Bears have been slowly trimming down their squad over the past few days, and the front office has now officially landed on their initial roster. The Bears announced the following moves, some of which were previously reported:
The moves actually reduce Chicago’s roster to 52 players, so additions are certainly coming.
Trevis Gipson is a bit of a surprise cut after the former fifth-round pick got into 33 games (19 starts) for the Bears over the past two years. The defensive lineman showed some pass-rushing prowess during his rookie season, compiling seven sacks, seven tackles for loss, and seven QB hits. His numbers took a bit of a step back in 2022, with the Tulsa product finishing with only three sacks. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (via Twitter), the Bears worked on a trade for Gipson and had “teams involved” in the bidding but couldn’t come to terms before today’s roster deadline.
Trestan Ebner was another Bears draft pick that got into 17 games last season. The 2022 sixth-round pick ended up getting 26 touches on offense, collecting 62 yards from scrimmage while coughing up two fumbles. Ebner also returned 10 kickoffs for Chicago last season. The running back has been in concussion protocol since the early parts of the preseason, and there’s a chance he reverts to the Bears’ injured reserve if he goes unclaimed.
The Bears used their No. 2 waiver spot to pick up the third-year defender. Ojemudia’s third-round rookie contract runs through 2023, giving the Bears an offseason to gauge his fit in Matt Eberflus‘ defense. To make room on their 53-man roster, the Bears waived veteran defensive end Taco Charlton.
Ojemudia has only one season to really measure in terms of NFL performance. A Broncos team limited at corner turned to the Iowa alum for 11 starts in 2020. The 6-foot-1 corner allowed a 103.2 passer rating as the closest defender and yielded three touchdowns. Ojemudia’s 852 defensive snaps in 16 games that season were not indicative of his NFL trajectory, with injuries largely defining his next two seasons.
A hamstring injury kept him off the field for most of last season, and a dislocated elbow cost him a chunk of this year’s campaign. Ojemudia, 25, played just one defensive snap for the Broncos this season. The Bears, however, are playing out the string at corner and could use assistance. After placing safety Eddie Jackson on IR, Chicago moved corners Jaylon Johnson and Kindle Vildor to its injured list. All three are out for the season’s remainder.
Charlton, 28, played in five Bears games but did not record a sack. The former first-round pick has seen action with five teams over the past five seasons, moving from Dallas to Miami to Kansas City to Pittsburgh to Chicago.
Brought in as a possible starter option in 2020, Michael Ojemudia did not end up carving out much of a role in Denver. The Broncos have now moved on from the third-year cornerback.
Denver sent Ojemudia to waivers Tuesday, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. Despite being an 11-game starter as a rookie, Ojemudia did not factor into the next two Broncos defenses much. One season remains on Ojemudia’s rookie contract.
Chosen 77th overall out of Iowa during John Elway‘s final draft as GM, Ojemudia suffered a hamstring injury that kept him out for almost all of the 2021 season. The Broncos had assembled a deeper group of corners in 2021, drafting Patrick Surtain IIand signing Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller to team with slot cog Bryce Callahan. This year’s collection was slightly thinner, with Callahan and Fuller leaving in free agency. But Ojemudia could not earn much playing time.
Ojemudia suffered a dislocated elbow during the preseason and did not return until Week 6. The Broncos used one of their eight IR activations on the would-be No. 4 corner, but it ended up being fourth-round rookie Damarri Mathis who replaced Darby after his Week 5 ACL tear. Ojemudia played just one defensive snap this season. He becomes the third Broncos third-round corner since 2017 not to play out his rookie contract, following Brendan Langley and Isaac Yiadom.
With Darby’s 2023 status uncertain due to his latest injury and the Broncos having the opportunity to save $10MM by releasing him in the final year of his contract, Mathis — a top-50 corner as a rookie, per Pro Football Focus — should be expected to compete for a key role again next season. Surtain is signed through 2024, with a fifth-year option that will undoubtedly be exercised locking the Pro Bowl starter in through 2025, and Callahan slot successor K’Waun Williams signed for one more season.
OCTOBER 17: Denver has now taken the lead in injury activations this season. The Broncos moved their number of available injured-list activations from eight to five Monday, moving Simmons, Dulcich and Ojemudia onto their 53-man roster. Simmons, in particular, stands to provide the biggest boost. The Broncos have used him as a safety starter for six seasons now and have him signed to a top-five contract at the position. Denver will also be without second-year safety Caden Sterns in Los Angeles.
Dulcich’s return will make Week 1 starter Albert Okwuegbunam a healthy scratch. The third-year tight end has not developed as a blocker in the way the Broncos have hoped, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets, and has seen lower-level investments cut into his playing time. He has seven catches for 50 yards this season and has played just 16 snaps over the past two games.
OCTOBER 11: The Broncos have not used one of their injured reserve activations yet; that will likely change soon. The injury-plagued team will have three performers return to practice this week.
Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons, third-round rookie tight end Greg Dulcich and third-year cornerback Michael Ojemudia will be designated for return ahead of Week 6, Nathaniel Hackett said Tuesday. Being back at practice Tuesday, as all three players were, starts each’s 21-day activation clock. For a Broncos team that lost two more starters to season-ending injuries recently (left tackle Garett Bolles and cornerback Ronald Darby), these additions should help its cause.
Simmons went down with a thigh injury during the Broncos’ season opener. Because four weeks have passed, he is eligible to return. Denver having its longest-tenured starter back when first eligible should be a boon for a defense that has continued to operate like one of the league’s best in the seven-year veteran’s absence.
This season marked Simmons’ first extended absence. Denver’s Seattle tilt represented his 66th straight start. The former third-round pick, who signed a $15.25MM-per-year extension after receiving his second franchise tag in 2o21, is in the second year of his once-safety-record contract. Simmons, 28, has intercepted 14 passes since 2019. His replacement, Caden Sterns, intercepted two against the Colts in Week 5; those picks were not enough to prevent a wildly panned Broncos overtime loss to the Colts.
Denver has used all four of its active-roster tight ends this season, incorporating each into offensive sets as the team transitions to Hackett’s attack. But Dulcich has been viewed as a possible starter. The Broncos used their second 2022 draft choice on the UCLA product, selecting him in Round 3. But a hamstring injury led to an IR trip to start the season.
Ojemudia, a 2020 third-round pick, was vying to be the Broncos’ top backup cornerback in training camp. After he missed most of 2021 with a hamstring malady, the John Elway-era draft choice suffered a dislocated elbow during a preseason game. The Iowa alum has not proven much as a pro yet, but Darby’s absence could lead to an opportunity. The Broncos have fourth-round rookie Damarri Mathis set to replace Darby, but Ojemudia — should the team end up activating him — could have a say in how Denver constructs its secondary going forward.
Two Russell Wilson auxiliary weapons will not be available to start the season. While Tim Patrick will be down throughout 2022 after tearing an ACL early in training camp, George Paton confirmed Tuesday (via Denver7’s Troy Renck, on Twitter) rookie tight endGreg Dulcichwill begin his season on IR.
A hamstring injury dogged Dulcich for most of training camp. The UCLA product suffered a setback early in camp and did not play in the Broncos’ preseason games. The team made Dulcich a key part of its 2022 draft, adding him with its second pick this year. With Albert Okwuegbunam going into a contract year, Dulcich could profile as the Broncos’ tight end of the future. But the team has not seen much from the Day 2 investment yet.
A former Alliance of American Football cog, Purcell has been with the Broncos since 2019. The veteran nose tackle has started 23 games in that span, though injuries have intervened over the past two years. Purcell, 31, had signed a three-year, $14.8MM extension in 2020 but saw the Broncos bring in a high-priced replacement in D.J. Jones this offseason. A blocking tight end, Tomlinson spent much of the past two seasons with the Ravens. He joined Dulcich as the Broncos’ tight end newcomers this year.
Another week, another dislocated elbow for a Broncos defender. Per Mike Klis of 9News.com, Denver cornerback Michael Ojemudia dislocated his elbow during the team’s preseason loss to the Bills on Saturday (Twitter link).
The Broncos lost linebacker Jonas Griffith to the same injury last week. While Kilis did not provide a recovery timeline for Ojemudia, it seems safe to assume that Griffith’s expected absence of four to six weeks would apply to Ojemudia as well.
It may also be fair to expect a corresponding roster move. Denver’s CB starters appear to be set, with Patrick Surtain II and Ronald Darby penciled in as the primary boundary corners and K’Waun Williams in the slot, but the depth behind that trio was questionable even before Ojemudia’s injury. Ojemudia and fourth-round rookie Damarri Mathis had been battling for the CB4 role, and while earlier reports suggested that Ojemudia was faring well in that competition, the 2020 third-rounder played poorly during his time in the Buffalo game.
Ojemudia appeared in all 16 games (11 starts) in his rookie campaign in 2020, and he tallied six passes defensed and four forced fumbles while surrendering a 103.2 QB rating. He finished with a poor 48.7 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, and he slipped down the depth chart last summer. He was placed on IR at the start of the 2021 season and was not activated until December 11. He ultimately appeared in just two contests, though he did earn a start in the final game of the season, recording 11 tackles and two passes defensed.
With OTAs and mandatory minicamp finished across the league, organizations and media members alike have had the chance to break down some of the elements of the offseason which have stood out the most to them. In the case of the Broncos, 9News’ Mike Klis has detailed some of his key observations.
There are a number of other options being plugged into various positions, though. Included among those is Netane Muti, who has seen work with the other starters while filling in at both guard positions, as well as GrahamGlasgow, who recently returned to practice to compete for a starting role. Lastly, Klis lists Billy Turneras a veteran who is “expected to play” somewhere along the o-line. The 30-year-old came back to the Broncos on a one-year, $5MM deal this offseason, but is also the linemen most experienced in working with new HC Nathaniel Hackett.
Here are a few other notes from that same Klis piece:
Cornerback had the potential to be an area of need, at least in terms of depth behind Patrick Surtain II, Ronald Darbyand K’Waun Williams, at this point in the offseason. However, Klis cites the play of Michael Ojemudiaduring the spring as cause for optimism that the team’s best option for the No. 4 role may already be on the roster. The 2020 third-rounder is set to compete with Damarri Mathis, whom the Broncos drafted in the fourth round this year, for that spot. A number of veteran free agents could still “wind up on GM George Paton’s radar,” Klis notes, however.
To no surprise, running back Javonte Williamsis expected to “bump up to the 1A role” in 2022. In his rookie season, the North Carolina alum produced over 1,200 scrimmage yards despite splitting carries with Melvin Gordon, who signed a one-year deal to stay in Denver. Given his the former’s efficiency, and the seven-year age gap between the two, Williams is the logical candidate to assume a larger workload going forward.