Broncos activate Su'a Cravens off injured reserve

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Su'a Cravens will buckle a chinstrap on a football helmet and play in a regular-season game Sunday for the first time since Dec. 11, 2016.

Cravens, who has been on injured reserve since the end of the preseason with a knee injury, was formally moved to the Denver Broncos' active roster Friday and will play against the Houston Texans on Sunday.

It will be Cravens' first appearance in a regular-season game since his rookie season, when he had one tackle for the Washington Redskins in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

"It's been a year and a half overdue now," Cravens said. "I was ready to play Week 1, then an injury comes. I had a torn meniscus the whole time, not even knowing. It's all been a part of God's plans. It's my time now, so take advantage of it."

Cravens missed the 2017 season with post-concussion syndrome.

"I'm going to try to blast somebody," Cravens said earlier this week. "I've got to. It's been eight weeks, so I've got some built-up frustration."

The Broncos acquired Cravens and two 2018 draft picks in a trade with the Redskins this past March. In exchange, the Redskins got two draft picks in the 2018 draft and a conditional pick in the 2020 draft.

Cravens has also dealt with knee and elbow injuries during his career.

In September 2017, he was placed on the exempt/left squad list by the Redskins after he had indicated to some that he wanted to retire. Cravens has said he was dealing with family issues at the time.

During training camp this summer, Cravens missed time with swelling in his knee and -- when the team cut to 53 players just before the start of the season -- he was moved to injured reserve. He has practiced the last two weeks without any issues.

"I've been here every day," Cravens said. "It hasn't been a vacation for me. I haven't been home in California or anything. If I wasn't rehabilitating, I was in the defensive meetings and learning everything. I've been doing the exact same schedule besides playing. I'm glad that I'm getting rewarded with playing now. I'm looking forward to that."

The Broncos have seen Cravens as a possible solution in covering opposing tight ends and running backs in the passing game when they go to their dime (six defensive backs) package. And that's where he figures to get most of his work Sunday against the Texans.

Seattle tight end Will Dissly (105 receiving yards, TD) and Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce (157 yards, two touchdowns in two games) were trouble spots for the Broncos this season.

"His body type and skill set as a dime backer is valuable because he can play first, second and third down," Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. "... Obviously, if they pass the ball on first, second or third down, he can cover tight ends."

Joseph said Cravens would not be on any kind of play count against the Texans. Cravens enters the lineup in a week when three defensive starters -- linebacker Brandon Marshall (knee), cornerback Bradley Roby (ankle) and Darian Stewart (neck/stingers) -- will miss the game.

Linebacker Von Miller will start, but has also practiced this week with a brace on his left knee, which he said was "just a little sore'' after practice Friday.

"We have ballers everywhere on defense," Cravens said. "I just feel like we're not making every play that we should make. We're leaving a lot of plays out there and a lot of our games have come down to one score. Hopefully, I can be the one that comes in and picks up those plays that we're missing on and that's what we need to get this ball rolling."