SAN FRANCISCO -- Looking to cover for injuries to the secondary and increase the role of a recently-acquired tight end, the Broncos activated cornerback Taurean Nixon from the practice squad and cut veteran tight end John Phillips.
Nixon helps provide depth at depleted area. He landed on the active roster for the AFC Championship Game last year, and nearly made the team this summer. The Broncos needed help with cornerbacks Aqib Talib (sore back) and Kayvon Webster (hamstring) ruled out. Talib received a pain injection last week and hopes to play at New Orleans after a weekend of rest and no travel. Webster practiced Friday and thought he might be ready, but the training staff deemed he needed more time.
"Shaking book soon," Webster told Denver7 this weekend. "Going to come back turnt."
The onus is on Bradley Roby and Lorenzo Doss to play well. They will find themselves in critical matchups against Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, with Roby starting and Doss moving into the subpackage roles. Nixon could see some snaps, but will be needed on special teams with Webster out.
The departure of Phillips sends a clear signal about the Broncos' confidence in recently-acquired A.J. Derby. A former college quarterback, Derby sped up his learning curve this past week. He is viewed as a tight end who can chip block and find spots in the defense on seam routes. Virgil Green played one of his best games last weekend, but coach Gary Kubiak loves to use double tight end sets, making different plays look similar.