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Denver Broncos cut 20 players, RB Montee Ball makes it, LB Steven Johnson does not

Running back Montee Ball made Denver's roster despite dropping to No. 4 on the depth chart. John Leyba/The Denver Post/Getty Images

Most significant move: Eight months after starting a playoff game for the Denver Broncos, linebacker Steven Johnson was among the team’s cuts Saturday. In what was the most crowded position on the depth chart, the Broncos likely sent more players away at linebacker who would have made their roster in previous years than at any other spot on the roster. Johnson, who was also second in tackles on special teams last season -- he was tied for team lead in special teams tackles in 2012 -- started at middle linebacker against the Colts this past January when Brandon Marshall missed the game with a foot injury. Ironically it’s likely what the Broncos considered some lackluster work on special teams in the preseason that ultimately cost Johnson his job on the roster. Johnson has been with the team since he made it as an undrafted rookie in 2012. Also released at linebacker were Lamin Barrow, a 2014 draft pick, and Zaire Anderson, an undrafted rookie who was a candidate to make the roster.

The 'best' 53: Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said all along the Broncos wouldn’t make roster moves to keep a certain number of players at a given position over players they believed deserved to make the team. That could be seen at defensive back where the Broncos kept six cornerbacks, including rookie Lorenzo Doss (fifth-round pick in this year’s draft) and Curtis Marsh, a fourth-year player who earned his way with special teams work. At wide receiver the Broncos kept six, including Jordan Norwood and Bennie Fowler. Also, rookie quarterback Trevor Siemian (seventh-round pick this year) had shown too much in the preseason to make it through waivers had the Broncos tried to sneak him through and add him to the practice squad. Siemian, who will the No. 3 quarterback, consistently displayed a power arm to go with some hearty backbone in two-minute drills and would have led the Broncos to two closing-minutes wins in the preseason had Brandon McManus not missed a 55-yard field goal attempt with less than a minute to play in Thursday night's preseason finale.

Ball still in Broncos’ court: Montee Ball, who has dropped to the No. 4 spot in the depth chart as the preseason progressed, made the 53-player roster as the Broncos kept four players at running back. Often the fourth back is a game-day inactive when everybody is healthy, but general manager John Elway said he felt it was too soon to send Ball on his way, offering; "he was still in the top 53 in our minds ... we still have high expectations for Montee." Ball has struggled some in the transition to the new offense, but was also impacted by the fact Ronnie Hillman -- 7.4 yards per carry in the preseason -- showed the new offense is certainly something that fits him.

What’s next: The Broncos have four offensive linemen with two or fewer years of NFL experience, including two rookies, so they will be on the lookout for help if they see a fit among the cuts elsewhere in the league. The also face two more roster decisions in the coming weeks when safety T.J. Ward, a Pro Bowl selection last season, returns from a one-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy and defensive end Derek Wolfe returns in Week 5 from a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Team cuts: LB Anderson, LB Barrow, RB Kapri Bibbs, WR Isaiah Burse, CB Tony Carter, C Dillon Day, S Josh Furman, NT Sione Fua, G Ben Garland, TE Marcel Jensen, LB Johnson, TE Dominique Jones, WR Corbin Louks, NT Chuka Ndulue, CB Taurean Nixon, OLB Gerald Rivers, T Kyle Roberts, T Charles Sweeton, WR Jordan Taylor, DE Josh Watson. DE Wolfe and S Ward go to reserve/suspended.