STEPHENSON, SAMBRAILO BATTLE AT RIGHT TACKLE
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.