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Broncos Notebook: “Sh*t just got real”

Zac Stevens Avatar
August 26, 2019

 

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — With cut day less than a week away, John Elway and Co. got a head start on all of the moves they have to make by Saturday at 2:00 pm in the Mile High City.

Monday began with two surprise veteran cuts when Denver released Zach Kerr and Dekoda Watson, both players many believed were on the path to making the final 53-man roster.

“Excuse my language, but sh*t just got real,” reserve defensive lineman DeShawn Williams said on Monday after hearing about the moves.

Not only was Kerr coming off his best season with the Broncos, but he was also re-signed in the offseason with a two-year, $5 million contract. Releasing him cost Denver his $600,000 signing bonus.

Watson’s release was just as surprising of a move as the team traded for him during the offseason. The veteran outside linebacker had an inside path to being a special teams captain if he had made the team.

By cutting both players, Elway freed up over $3 million in cap space.

Before Monday’s practice, Vic Fangio said the cuts and timing of the cuts were twofold. First, the Broncos wanted to give both players an extra week to hook on with another team. Secondly, the team “felt good about the other guys at that position,” according to Fangio.

“In the D-line, I think [DeShawn] Williams and [Mike] Purcell have done well for themselves,” Fangio stated, praising both defensive linemen unprompted. “We’ll see how it goes.”

Neither Williams or Purcell have had much of a chance with the starting unit, but both have excelled as of late. During joint practices with the San Francisco 49ers, Purcell and Williams made multiple plays in the backfield. During Saturday’s fourth preseason game, each had a tackle for a loss.

“He can play anywhere along the line because he can do it mentally,” Fangio said, talking about Purcell, a Colorado native. “He’s strong enough. He’s not ideally suited to be an end, but he can do it in a pinch.”

Both players along the defensive line were undrafted—Purcell in 2013 and Williams in 2015—and have both bounced around the league in recent years.

When asked about former second-round pick DeMarcus Walker, Fangio added, “he’s done well for himself also.”

At outside backer, the release of Watson bodes well for undrafted rookie Malik Reed, who has drawn high praise all of camp, as well as rookie fifth-round pick Justin Hollins, who was never in jeopardy of not making the squad.

The Broncos also released receiver Nick Williams on Monday after he requested his release.

It’s possible the Broncos fill the three open spots this week, “but time is not favorable for that,” Fangio explained. Denver currently has 87 players on their roster. They’ll have to be at 53 by Saturday afternoon.

According to Fangio, he and Elway will talk more as the week goes on to discuss how they’ll narrow down the roster.

OTHER NOTES

  • Fangio stated “it remains to be seen” whether Kevin Hogan or Brett Rypien can be the team’s backup quarterback for the regular season. Fangio added bringing in a veteran signal-caller is “always an option.”
    • “I would like to see some separation from them,” he said of Hogan and Rypien. “We’ve got one more game to do that.”
  • Denver’s special teams played better on Saturday night, according to Fangio. Despite that, however, starters still may be forced to play on the unit, especially during the regular season.
    • “Still a possibility and it will become even more of a possibility once we’re down to 53 that goes to 46 that includes two quarterbacks at least, a punter, a kicker and a snapper,” the head coach explained. “It becomes more viable and possible for the regular season.”
  • Jake Butt was fine physically after playing in his first preseason game on Saturday, although he was sore. The third-year player did not practice on Monday, but that was to be expected.
  • Todd Davis won’t practice this week as he continues to recover from a partially torn calf.
    • “He’s progressing, but not at the rate that we hoped,” said Fangio.
  • The head coach believes Ron Leary will be ready for Week 1.
    • “He’s been improving with some of the time off he’s been getting. I think he’ll be ready.”
  • Fangio will continue coaching from the sideline despite admitting the view just isn’s as good.
    • “I’m used to seeing everything. I want everything,” he said, before dropping a gem. “I want all the meatballs and the pasta.”

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