Ekuban tore his Achilles' tendon in Denver's second preseason game. Kenard Lang started at defensive end last year, but he slid far down the depth chart in training camp. Alvin McKinley is another veteran option, but he has played tackle all offseason. The rest of the options are inexperienced.
Second-year player Elvis Dumervil, who slid down the draft because he is considered a pass-rushing specialist, started Denver's third preseason game. Rookies Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder will also get consideration. Crowder missed the second preseason game with an ankle injury. Dumervil was first in line, and the Broncos want to see if he can play the run as well as rush the quarterback.
"Elvis can do some things and help us on first and second down," defensive line coach Bill Johnson said. "He doesn't have to be a specialist. He's a good football player that can do some things."
Moss is the team's first-round pick, and a knee injury slowed him early in camp. He has shown some burst rushing the quarterback, but Broncos coach Mike Shanahan admitted Moss isn't currently the top option to start. Moss is trying to put on weight, but he is still lanky and needs to show he can hold up against the run every down.
"He's not ready to start yet," Shanahan said. "He will get there in time. He might get there a little sooner than anticipated."
Crowder will be an option. He is 272 pounds and can hold up against the run. He also picked up the defense very quickly for a rookie. He has been used at end in rushing situations and at tackle on passing downs, even though he didn't play much tackle in college. But he comes from the University of Texas, so he isn't overwhelmed by the pro game. He also worked hard after the draft and during training camp to be ready mentally as a rookie.
"I'm trying to get up to the tempo of things, and when somebody goes down or they call on me I'll know what to do," Crowder said.
PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES --RB Travis Henry was wearing a knee brace as he worked out last week. But he said he probably won't wear it during games, and insisted he will be ready for the regular-season opener. He has a slightly sprained MCL.
--WR Brandon Stokley made his Broncos preseason debut and caught a 26-yard pass. If he can stay healthy and play the slot, it gives the Broncos another much needed weapon at receiver.
--OG Ben Hamilton hasn't returned to practice or played this preseason. He has a concussion and the doctors are being cautious with him. Although most of Denver's starters won't play in the preseason finale, Hamilton could.
--LB Nate Webster is the strong favorite to start at strong-side linebacker when the regular season begins. There was a rotation for most of the offseason and camp, but the Broncos settled on Webster as the regular.
--RB Mike Bell will miss the Broncos' preseason finale and could miss the regular-season opener with a hip injury.
--RB Cecil Sapp started the third preseason game because of injuries to Travis Henry and Mike Bell. He ran hard and had a few good runs. He will probably open the season as Denver's No. 2 tailback.
--WR Brandon Marshall, who missed most of the first two weeks of camp with a quadriceps injury, has looked very good since returning. He should have a good season as the starter opposite Javon Walker.
--DT John Browning was signed by the Broncos. The longtime Chief is
healthy after missing last season with a back injury. The Broncos were
a little thin on the line after trading tackle Gerard Warren to Oakland
for a conditional fifth-round pick in 2008 and losing Ebenezer Ekuban
to a season-ending injury.
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