ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In a game that sets up as a last stand to contend, the Broncos will face the Texans without multiple starters.
Cornerback Bradley Roby (ankle), linebacker Brandon Marshall (knee) and safety Darian Stewart (neck) were ruled out on Friday. Royce Freeman is also expected to miss this week with a sprained ankle.
Safety Su'a Cravens (knee) will make his season debut, joining a battery of less experienced players who will be counted on to slow a Houston team that has won five straight games.
Tramaine Brock moves into Roby's role with Adam Jones and rookie Isaac Yiadom needed in sub packages. Jones missed Friday's practice after attending his uncle's funeral according to his Instagram post. Roby spent much of the week in a boot, and needs more time to recover in what is the latest speedbump in a disappointing season. The Broncos need Brock to deliver.
"It's been tough to get back to where I was," Brock told Denver7 of his limited snaps the past two years in Minnesota and Denver. "But I am ready. I am feeling like myself again. We are looking to go on a run in the second half of this season."
Rookie Josey Jewell starts in Marshall's place. Marshall began dealing with knee pain after the third preseason game. After trying different ways to alleviate the pain, Marshall was diagnosed with a bone bruise, demanding time off. Cravens and Will Parks will combine to fill Stewart's absence. Cravens brings a physical presence, and should help cover tight ends.
“It’s just frustrating not to be able to go out there and help my team in any kind of way. I hear what fans say, I see some of the things people are saying. They’re getting frustrated. I’m not out there and I know their pain," Cravens said. "It’s been over a year and some change where I haven’t been able to officially play a down of ball. I’m ready to go, like I said. I just can’t wait to get out there.”
The Broncos continued shuffling their wide receiver room. Denver cut Isaiah McKenzie and promoted River Cracraft from the practice squad, according to a source. Cracraft was taking reps in front of McKenzie at Friday's practice.