Broncos Update Insider - Tuesday, Dec. 21

The Broncos defense had trouble explaining its latest poor performance, which came in a 45-17 loss at Kansas City on Sunday. The Broncos gave up plenty of big plays to the Chiefs offense, and the easiest explanation for the defense was crediting Kansas City's explosive offense.

"We're not perfect. We're going to have bad days," linebacker Al Wilson said. "But K.C. played almost a perfect football game. When things happen like that, all you can do is play your game and fight to the end. But hell, when they play as good as they did (Sunday), it's going to be tough on any football team."

But the Broncos had their issues as well. They were physically beaten by Kansas City's strong offensive line, which helped Chiefs running back Larry Johnson rush for 151 yards.

Cornerback Champ Bailey got beat for some big plays, as he did against Cincinnati's Chad Johnson and Oakland's Jerry Porter earlier this season. Chiefs receiver Eddie Kennison had two touchdown receptions on Sunday, both against Bailey.

The Broncos defense started off the year strong but have faded in a couple of key losses during a stretch that has seen Denver lose five of eight games and fall behind in the AFC playoff race.

Denver needs to fix the problems before their final two games, against Tennessee and Indianapolis.

"Everybody knows about the Kansas City offense, but we had a lot of miscommunications, a lot of breakdowns, missing a gap here or a gap there and not making a play," cornerback Kelly Herndon said. "It of little things that went against us. It was one of those days."

NOTES, QUOTES

The Broncos brought in punter Jason Baker a couple of weeks ago, and he has struggled to take over as Denver's kickoff specialist. He hit a line drive that was returned 97 yards for a touchdown by Kansas City's Dante Hall to start Sunday's game. But Baker said he wasn't displeased with that first kick, especially given the cold weather conditions.

"It's windy and that's a 'K' ball that's frozen, so I'm not unhappy with it," Baker said. "I'm sure the guys on the other side would have taken that kick if they had the choice."

--Rookie receiver Triandos Luke has gotten more playing time in the past few weeks and has responded well. He saw plenty of action in Denver's three-receiver sets -- the most playing time of his career -- on Sunday and had five catches.

"I wasn't surprised because they told me to be prepared," Luke said. "I think I played pretty decent, but I don't like to talk too much about myself after a loss."

--RB Garrison Hearst looked decent in the fourth quarter against Kansas City, albeit in garbage time. Hearst hasn't been a big part of Denver's offense all season because he has been behind on the depth chart.

--FB Kyle Johnson sprained his ankle and didn't return to Sunday's game. His status for this week's game is unknown. If he can't play, the Broncos would either go without a true fullback or move Reuben Droughns back to the position and let Tatum Bell carry the load at tailback.

--G Cooper Carlisle looks like he will be the starter at right guard for the rest of the season. Dan Neil was a top performer for the Broncos for years, but injuries have slowed him down to the point the Broncos think Carlisle gives them a better performance.

--LB D.J. Williams was a bright spot in an awful performance for the Broncos. He had a team-high 12 tackles and forced a fumble with a sack on a blitz. Williams has been consistent all season, as a rookie.

--DE Demetrin Veal was added to the roster on Saturday. Veal, who was signed from Baltimore's practice squad, was inactive for Sunday's game. He will add defensive line depth with Luther Elliss out for the rest of the season.

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