CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Donald Stephenson took a pay cut to dramatically decrease his chances of the Broncos cutting him. After losing his right tackle spot last season, Stephenson remains in line to make the team after reworking his contract.
Stephenson, signed prior to last season as a free agent, was set to make $4 million this season after a previous revision in his contract helped him avoid a March roster purge. He will make $2.5 million this year with an opportunity claw back his money through incentives.
"I kind of seen it coming (when he agreed to first restructure). But I knew it didn't make it definite I was coming back. I have had a hell of a camp. And I figured that (a second restructure) would help me some. I think it definitely helps," Stephenson told Les Shapiro and Eric Goodman of Mile High Sports Radio on Thursday. "I am not going to hang my hat on anything. I am going to keep working and play my butt off this weekend and show what I am capable of doing."
Stephenson started 12 games last season before losing his spot to Ty Sambrailo during the New Orleans game. Sambrailo, who is now in clear danger of being cut or traded, took over for Stephenson against Kansas City and was subsequently benched. He has struggled in camp and was quickly beat out at the left tackle spot.
Stephenson appeared in 86 percent of the Broncos' offensive snaps last year. While he slumped last season, he provides depth at both tackle spots and guard. He admitted he didn't think he would be back this summer after experiencing the most disappointing year of his career because of poor technique and a lingering calf injury.
The Broncos will open the season with a rookie left tackle in Garett Bolles and a veteran Menelik Watson, who has dealt with numerous injuries throughout his career.
Injured defensive end Jared Crick is making progress. He spent the early part of practice running the hill at Dove Valley, while performing agility work. The Broncos believe he will be available for the season opener. ... Special teams coach Brock Olivo said Cody Latimer remains the slight favorite for the kick return job. He's expected to receive plenty of opportunities on Saturday to secure the spot. ... Coach Vance Joseph praised fullback Andy Janovich on Wednesday, talking about the second-year player like he is in line to make the team.