Broncos have depth issues to solve at defensive line before Monday's game

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- With the season opener two days away, the Denver Broncos have seen their depth on the defensive line take a hit in recent days.

Starting defensive end Jared Crick and backup defensive end/nose tackle Zach Kerr have both been ruled out of Monday night's game against the Los Angeles Chargers. Crick played in just one preseason game because of a back injury he suffered in mid-August, and Kerr suffered a knee injury in the Broncos' Aug. 26 preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.

The Broncos waived backup nose tackle Kyle Peko on Saturday. Peko had been listed as questionable for Monday night's game. He initially had been waived last weekend, when the Broncos trimmed the roster to 53 players, but he later re-signed with the team.

The Broncos now are expected to move a player up from their practice squad for Monday's game. One possibility for promotion is rookie nose tackle Tyrique Jarrett.

Crick, who led the Broncos' defensive linemen in playing time last season, had practiced on a limited basis on Thursday, but he was then held out of practice on Friday and Saturday morning.

"I think Jared is getting better, but he's not well enough to play a football game right now,'' said Broncos coach Vance Joseph. "In our opinion, if we put him out there this week, which we could probably, it would hurt us down the road.''

It all means that 2016 second-round pick Adam Gotsis and Shelby Harris will get plenty of work at defensive end next to nose tackle Domata Peko against the Chargers. Harris is a third-year player who earned a roster spot with quality play in training camp: He led the Broncos with three sacks in the preseason.

"That's the way it's been throughout the preseason ... and that's what we expect Monday night,'' Joseph said. "That's why they're here ... what they did in the preseason I expect them to do Monday night.''

Joseph also said after Saturday's practice that running back Jamaal Charles closed out a good week of practice, and he is expected to play against the Chargers. Charles played in just one preseason game as the Broncos tried to regulate his work.

Charles practiced fully Friday and Saturday, and Joseph said, "He's ready to go.''