Gurley will be tough test
Can the Broncos’ run defense be corrected in a week?
Sure … it was fractured in a week. The Broncos entered the New York Jets game fourth against the run (93.8 yards per game) and had allowed only four explosive carries (at least 12 yardgain) in 97 attempts.
But the Jets rolled up 323 yards on 38 carries and had seven explosive rushes, including four of at least 36 yards.
And now they get to face Rams running back Todd Gurley, who leads the NFL in carries (101) and rushing touchdowns (seven) and is second in yards (415).
“He’s one of the elite backs in the league,” nose tackle Domata Peko said. “He reminds me a little bit of (Kansas City’s) Kareem Hunt. Runs hard and aggressive. We have to swarm him. One thing I remember playing him in Cincinnati (in 2015), we got after him early and hit him hard and it really slowed him down. We want to get after him and show him we’re not playing around.”
In that 2015 game, Peko played for the Bengals and Gurley was held to 19 yards on nine carries.
The Broncos ran into trouble against the Jets when Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell bounced outside. The onus is on the linebackers and defensive backs to be in better position to contain Gurley on the perimeter.
Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
Twice a coordinator and once a head coach for the Broncos, Phillips faces Denver for the first time since leaving after the 2016 season.
“Another grudge game for me, right?” Phillips said with a laugh to Los Angeles area reporters. “Like Atlanta, Buffalo, Dallas, New Orleans, Philadelphia, (the) Chargers. Denver twice, Houston — two different teams in Houston. Pretty much got the league covered now.”
Broncos assistants Bill Kollar (defensive line), Reggie Herring (linebackers) and Joe Woods (coordinator) worked for Phillips. Coach Vance Joseph was on the same Houston staff as Phillips.
Of Kollar, Herring and Woods, Phillips said: “They were the guys that met with the (players) every day and got them to play the way they did. I was just riding on the train clanging the bell.”
Watch for …
Rookie Isaac Yiadom to play a role in the Broncos’ subpackage defense. Yiadom ended the preseason as essentially the fifth cornerback behind Harris, Bradley Roby, Adam Jones and Tramaine Brock.
But Yiadom is expected to be the third corner against the Rams because Jones is out (thigh) and he has moved ahead of Brock, who was a healthy scratch last week but will be active if Jones can’t play. Yiadom has played 54 snaps in his three games. He allowed a touchdown against the Jets.
“(Learned) a lot — I’ve made some mistakes and I’ve learned from them,” Yiadom said.
Said Woods: “The thing with him, he’s confident. There’s no fear in him. He’s going to learn under fire.”
What was one mistake Yiadom has learned from?
“Simple things like making a tackle,” he said. “Next time, I want to come square and under control and get the guy on the ground.”
The Broncos ruled out Jones and right tackle Jared Veldheer (knee). Billy Turner will start at right tackle for Veldheer and DaeSean Hamilton will handle punt returns for Jones.