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Broncos' Ekuban lost for season with torn Achilles tendon

DENVER -- The Denver Broncos lost starting defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban for the season to a torn Achilles tendon, which he suffered in Saturday's preseason loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

The Broncos are hurting on defense, and their performance
in their first two exhibition games might force them to rethink
their plans to jettison defensive tackle Gerard Warren, whom
they've been trying to trade since last week.

Warren, who signed a six-year, $36 million deal a year ago, has
fallen out of favor in Denver, where new defensive boss Jim Bates
prefers beefier tackles who can hold up at the point of attack and
not the penetrating type of lineman that Warren is.

Warren might stick around, however, after the loss of Ekuban and the
dismal defense displayed so far by Denver, especially against the
run.

The Broncos' first-string defense has allowed four touchdowns
and two field goals so far, and they've really got just one more
exhibition game, Saturday night against Cleveland, to work things
out because the final preseason game is for fringe candidates to
work their way onto the roster, more than anything.

"If it was the last preseason game, I'd be a little more
concerned," cornerback Champ Bailey said Saturday. "We have time
to make it up. We expect ourselves to get better. It can't get any
worse than it did tonight."

Ekuban's loss is a big blow. The ninth-year veteran had missed
just one game in his two seasons in Denver after joining the
Broncos in a trade with Cleveland. He had a career-high 78 tackles
and seven sacks last year.

The Broncos had hoped he'd be the veteran influence up front for
a bevy of young linemen, including three of their four draft picks
-- Tim Crowder, Jarvis Moss and Marcus Thomas, vying for playing time.

"He was a guy we were definitely depending on up front,"
Bailey said. "We're going to miss him."

Ekuban's loss was the second big loss to a team that lost its
captain and leading tackler in the offseason when middle linebacker
Al Wilson was waived for health and salary cap concerns.

"[Ekuban] is a great part of this defense," linebacker D.J.
Williams
said. "When you lose a guy like that, you always wonder
about games like this."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.