Gur­ley will be tough test

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Ryan O'Halloran

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.

Spot­light coach.

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.”

Foot­notes.

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.

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