Broncos Update Insider - 12/17

Denver Broncos running baCK Selvin Young struggled against Carolina, with a costly fumble and only 19 yards rushing, but coach Mike Shanahan said he understood Young was rusty after having only one carry over an eight-game stretch.

Some NFL teams looked at Denver Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard as a safety because of his lack of size, even though he was an outstanding linebacker at Kentucky.

The Broncos found out Woodyard can play linebacker in the NFL, but with D.J. Williams back, they figured using him at strong safety is a way to keep him on the field. Woodyard started Sunday's game against Carolina at strong safety. He didn't play much there after the first series, but the Broncos say he could continue in that role depending on the opponent.

"Look for him playing some strong safety as well as the linebacker position," coach Mike Shanahan said.

Woodyard went undrafted in part because of his size. He is listed at 230 pounds but might be smaller. But he earned playing time with his play while Williams was out with a knee injury, and the Broncos think he is athletic enough to play safety in certain packages.

"He's got great speed, probably faster than most strong safeties in the National Football League," Shanahan said.

Woodyard said he was happy the Broncos coaches were trying to find ways to get him on the field, and he would work at improving at safety if that's what his future holds.

"I feel like I can play that, working on my technique and covering a lot, I think I can play that," Woodyard said.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Broncos will try to keep the score of Sunday's Buccaneers-Chargers game from the players. Denver clinches the AFC West with a win or a Chargers loss. The Chargers play an early game, and Denver has a late game.

Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he would have televisions in the locker room turned off, and he doesn't want the score to appear in the stadium.

"Try to take care of business and play our best game, not worry about something we can't control," Shanahan said

--OG Chris Kuper has a broken left hand. The Broncos don't know his status going forward. He will have a cast put on and will be re-evaluated this week. Kuper did play with a cast on his broken right hand in training camp.

"We'll find out in the next couple days exactly what he can do and can't do," coach Mike Shanahan said.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

--RB Selvin Young struggled against Carolina, with a costly fumble and only 19 yards rushing, but coach Mike Shanahan said he understood Young was rusty after having only one carry over an eight-game stretch. Young's role is uncertain going forward. He didn't get a carry after his fumble.

--OT Ryan Clady gave up a couple of pressures to Carolina DE Julius Peppers, but Peppers was shut out on the stat sheet. He had no tackles and no sacks. Clady has played exceptionally well as a rookie.

--G Kory Lichtensteiger replaced Chris Kuper against Carolina when Kuper hurt his hand. Lichtensteiger had a rough debut, giving up a sack on his first play. The Broncos are high on the rookie fourth-round pick, and he would likely start at right guard if Kuper misses time.

--LB D.J. Williams returned to the lineup after missing five games with a sprained knee. He admittedly was a bit rusty in his return. He had three tackles. Williams should continue to improve as he gets back in football shape.

--LB Nate Webster played a bit more in his second game back from a knee injury, but was still spelled at times in the base defense by Mario Haggan, and he came out in passing situations. Webster had four tackles against Carolina.



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