The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

With in­juries mount­ing on of­fense and a sink­hole still to fill up front on the line, the Bron­cos’ sea­son is sud­denly rush­ing at them. Or maybe that’s the Jack­sonville Jaguars, Sun­day’s op­po­nents.

“Their team speed jumps out at you,” Bron­cos of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Rick Den­ni­son said Wed­nes­day at Dove Val­ley.

Jack­sonville, at 2-9 and in last place in the AFC South, none­the­less fields the sixth-best de­fense in the NFL in yards al­lowed per game, just two spots and 7.0 yards per game be­hind the Bron­cos.

So the re­volv­ing-door bat­tle on Den­ver’s of­fen­sive line be­tween right tack­les Don­ald Stephen­son and Ty Sam­brailo sud­denly takes on added sig­nif­i­cance.

Sam­brailo started Sun­day night against Kansas City and played 22 snaps be­fore be­ing pulled. Stephen­son, who be­gan the sea­son as the start­ing right tackle, was put back in and played 62 snaps.

They will con­tinue to share time, Den­ver coach Gary Ku­biak said.

“I’m still go­ing to play them both,” he said. “They need to con­tinue to com­pete on a daily ba­sis. That’s good for our team. It will be good for both of them over the long haul.”

How will the Stephen­son-Sam­brailo com­pe­ti­tion work?

“Who starts the game? Who plays the most? We’ll see,” Ku­biak said.

Den­ni­son as­sessed his two right tack­les with reser­va­tions. On Stephen­son, he wants to see more: “When he went in the game, he did some good things. He had some flaws; we all did. But he cor­rected some things. We need to keep tak­ing steps for­ward and keep get­ting bet­ter.”

On Sam­brailo, Den­ni­son wants to see his pos­i­tive qual­i­ties more of­ten.

“We just keep coach­ing. He’s a tal­ented guy,” Den­ni­son said of fel­low for­mer Colorado State player Sam­brailo. “He has his spurts of do­ing good things. We just have to make him con­sis­tent.”

The Bron­cos have al­lowed the fifth-most sacks in the league at 31. And, at 7-4 and cur­rently in the sev­enth spot in the AFC playoff race, Den­ver has ground to make up — in the stand­ings and on the of­fen­sive line.

“This time of year is a pressed time­line,” Den­ni­son said. “We have to keep get­ting bet­ter.”


Left of­fen­sive tackle Rus­sell Okung did not prac­tice Wed­nes­day, but he is not in­jured. The Bron­cos did not elab­o­rate on why he didn’t work out. … Wide re­ceiver Ben­nie Fowler did not prac­tice be­cause of a knee in­jury. But he showed no signs of it be­ing se­ri­ous. … Long snap­per Casey Kre­iter re­mains side­lined with a calf strain.

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