Vance Joseph on defensive linemen: 'Here's your time' to impress

Zach Kerr is one of seven Denver defensive linemen who made the trip to the Bay Area. Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- At the moment, the Denver Broncos are trying to make the status quo work as they try to ride out some injuries on the defensive line.

The seven defensive linemen the Broncos brought on the trip will have to find a way to get it done as they work through two days' worth of practices against the San Francisco 49ers to go with Saturday's preseason game in Levi's Stadium.

Jared Crick and Derek Wolfe were left in Denver to work with the training staff as they continue to rehab recent injuries. Crick suffered back spasms during Monday's practice and had to be taken off the field on a cart, while Wolfe suffered a sprained right ankle in Saturday's practice -- he also was taken from the field on a cart that day.

Defensive end Billy Winn also suffered a season-ending torn ACL in the Broncos' preseason opener in Chicago last week.

"We've got seven guys here, that's it," Broncos coach Vance Joseph said after Wednesday's practice just outside Levi's Stadium, at the 49ers' practice facility. "If you want to make a mark for yourself, here's your time."

Especially for Adam Gotsis, a second-round pick in the 2016 draft, and Zach Kerr, who was signed in free agency this past March. Nose tackle Domata Peko, a 12th-year veteran, and Shelby Harris, a third-year player, are the only other defensive linemen the Broncos have on this trip who have appeared in an NFL game.

The other three -- Tyrique Jarrett, Shakir Soto and Nelson Adams -- are rookies. Joseph has said the Broncos hope they can stay healthy for the remainder of the preseason since they would rather not have to add a defensive lineman and have to release someone at another position to stay at 90 players.

They signed Adams when Winn was placed on injured reserve to open a roster spot. The Broncos also are a little light at outside linebacker right now given Shaquil Barrett has not practiced in training camp because of a hip injury he suffered in the offseason. Shane Ray tore a ligament in his left wrist in the camp's first week.

The Broncos expect Wolfe and Crick to be ready for the Sept. 11 regular-season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers, and Joseph has said Barrett and Ray both could be back in the lineup by Week 2 or 3 of the regular season.

"Whenever somebody gets hurt, you feel for them," Broncos linebacker Von Miller said. "That's just part of it. We have a lot of great guys, have depth on our team. You never want to see injuries ... but it gives all these other guys an opportunity to go out there and be great."