ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos must cut their roster to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET Saturday, Sept. 2. Here’s a final 53-man roster projection:
Unless they have a change of heart about Lynch’s recovery from a bruised right (throwing) shoulder, the Broncos will probably have to keep three players here when they only intended to keep two. And the third player is likely not on their roster at the moment. Undrafted rookie Kyle Sloter has worked as the No. 3 quarterback in camp, but it would be a lot to ask for him to go from nine career starts in college -- all in 2016 -- to potentially playing against the Los Angeles Chargers and Dallas Cowboys if Siemian were to get injured in those games and Lynch was out the first two weeks of the regular season, as coach Vance Joseph has said.
Booker is not expected to be ready for the start of the regular season as he recovers from wrist surgery, but according to Joseph he is expected back by Week 2 or 3. The Broncos like what they’ve seen from Charles and it’s unlikely Henderson would clear waivers even if the Broncos wanted him on the practice squad. Besides, Henderson is the fastest player at the position.
FULLBACK (1): Andy Janovich
Any thoughts that Janovich wasn’t going to make the roster were misguided. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has plans for him in the offense, and he is a foundation player on special teams.
This takes into account the third quarterback swallowing a roster spot elsewhere and the possibility rookie Carlos Henderson heads to injured reserve after undergoing thumb surgery following the preseason opener in Chicago. The Broncos have tough calls at this position after Thomas and Sanders to try to keep six -- and they might have six where when Lynch is healthy and they go back to two quarterbacks. In this scenario there likely isn't room for Latimer given Fowler is the No. 3, McKenzie is the punt returner, and despite the occasional bobble in his route running, Taylor has simply made the kinds of plays that should keep him around.
This takes into account that rookie Jake Butt could start the season on PUP and return to practice in six weeks if the Broncos believe his knee is up to the challenge. That will require a roster move later if he returns, but the Broncos would like to see him in the offense at some point.
This group could stay at eight if this becomes the roster spot where the third quarterback causes a change of thinking in the season’s first two weeks. The Broncos could also try to trade one of the players with NFL experience they might not have room to keep, like Michael Schofield. Schofield has position versatility, but the Broncos working Sambrailo at center this past week could indicate they believe Sambrailo could play tackle, guard or center in a game if needed. In the end, Denver might need to trade somebody else to have room for both Schofield and Sambrailo on this roster. Both are former Broncos draft picks.
With Billy Winn's season-ending knee injury, Harris produced when he had to in order to earn a spot. DeMarcus Walker's move to outside linebacker also cleared some room. Wolfe and Crick missed time with ankle and back injuries, respectively, in the preseason but are expected to be ready by the Sept. 11 regular-season opener.
If safety T.J. Ward is indeed traded or released, the Broncos will be able to keep nine here, and president of football operations/general manager John Elway always has preferred to have a roster split of 25 players on offense, 25 players on defense to go with the three specialists in the kicking game. If they keep eight here, Denver will have a linebacker or two on the practice squad to move up later if needed.
There is a scenario where Ward is back in the locker room, but the Broncos have sought to trade for the Pro Bowl safety. As of Thursday night, no decision had been made on his future, and he could be released if the Broncos decide Simmons is ready. If the Broncos don't keep 10 here, and they may not be able to with an extra QB on the roster, it likely will be Lewis-Harris or Doss for the final cornerback spot. Lewis-Harris' previous experience with Joseph in Cincinnati as well as his ability to play in the slot if needed could tip the scales. Carter deserves to be the undrafted rookie who makes the roster, as he showed plenty of potential and willingness to stick his nose in the action.
No changes here since the start of the offseason program. Both McManus and Dixon have been unchallenged, as has Kreiter, who recovered from a lower leg injury that caused him to finish the 2016 season on injured reserve.