Broncos Stock Report: Who’s up, who’s down after 22-16 overtime loss to Raiders
The Broncos’ stock report after their 22-16 overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday:
OLB Baron Browning
The second-year player returned from a two-game absence due to a hip injury and made his presence felt. Browning has a rare ability to bend on the edge and plays well against the run, too. He was credited with four tackles (one for loss) and, perhaps best of all for the Broncos, played 42 defensive snaps and said after the game he felt good physically. He’s a core-type player to build around on defense going forward.
CB Damarri Mathis
The rookie cornerback had four pass interference penalties in his starting debut more than a month ago but has played better and better with seemingly every start. He was solid in coverage again against the Raiders and showed he’s not afraid to tackle, either. He made a key play with 3 minutes, 12 seconds to go in regulation when he broke up a tough-to-track moon ball from Derek Carr to Keelan Cole that safety Justin Simmons overran.
WR Courtland Sutton
The Broncos’ top receiver and quarterback Russell Wilson still struggle to connect on short slants and throws over the middle, but Sutton showed continued signs of resurgence against the Raiders. The back-shoulder fade ball should be more of a weapon than it’s been for Sutton and Wilson and Sutton also made a great play to track a ball right over the top of his head along the sideline. After a three-game dry spell, Sutton has 11 catches for 146 yards in two games since the bye week.
K Brandon McManus
The veteran kicker had a field goal blocked by Maxx Crosby but also drilled three field goals from 48, 48 and 52. He looked comfortable and confident on all three swings. Empower Field provided beautiful kicking conditions Sunday and that won’t necessarily be the case every week. If the Broncos’ offense continues to struggle at this rate, though, he’s going to keep getting chances from that kind of distance.
Kick return unit
This isn’t just on rookie return man Montrell Washington, though he didn’t help matters by dropping a returnable kickoff on Sunday. Teams at this point essentially bail out the Broncos when they kick the ball into the end zone for a touchback. Las Vegas tried to avoid that and use short kickoffs to make Denver return the ball and it worked. The three non-touchbacks were only returned to the 14, 13 and 18-yard line. Denver’s starting field position on five Vegas kickoffs: It’s own 19. That’s only making life more difficult for an offense that needs all the help it can get.
ILBs in pass coverage
Josey Jewell and Alex Singleton by and large played well against the Raiders — they’re not the only good players on the stock down this week — but had two big pass plays go against them late in the game. Las Vegas got running back Josh Jacobs isolated on a wheel route against Jewell near the end of regulation and the inside linebacker also got chipped by receiver Mac Hollins running a shallow cross. Then in overtime, tight end Foster Moreau ran right between the pair and reeled in a dart from Derek Carr for 33 yards that preceded the game-winner to Davante Adams. Jewell and Singleton otherwise had 11 tackles apiece and Jewell recorded a sack one play after Singleton had one taken off the board by an accepted penalty.
TE Albert Okwuegbunam
The young tight end has gone from decreased role to regularly inactive to taking up a spot on the active roster but not playing. Since the Broncos found no takers for Okwuegbunam at the trade deadline, their injury situation has been such that he’s been on the 46-man gameday roster each of the past two weeks. However, he hasn’t played a snap of offense in that time and, unlike Eric Tomlinson and Eric Saubert, he hasn’t played a snap of special teams, either. Nathaniel Hackett said the Broncos would need Albert O in the season’s second half. Not yet, even with Andrew Beck out due to a hamstring injury.
CB Pat Surtain II
Let’s be abundantly clear: This wasn’t the second-year corner’s finest moment, but it’s a momentary blip. Surtain’s stock is blue chip and he’ll likely return with a vengeance. His teammates were quick to come to his defense regarding the 35-yard touchdown to Adams in overtime. The one Surtain may want back just as much: A 21-yard throw to Cole to get the Raiders’ tying field goal drive jumpstarted. The next play was the wheel route to Jacobs that put Las Vegas inside the 10.
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