CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- T.J. Ward makes a living delivering hits. It was the safety, however, who was blindsided when walking off the practice field Tuesday. His name surfaced in a trade rumor report, suggesting the Broncos will take calls and even explore interest on the market for the veteran safety who is entering the final year of his contract.
"I haven't heard that. I will talk to my agent, obviously, but I haven't heard that," Ward told Denver7 exclusively. "My focus is on getting ready for the season opener (Sept. 11 against the Los Angeles Chargers)."
Ward recognized this could be a different season when talks on a contract extension never materialized. He narrowed his sights on improving from last year, staying healthy and entering the free agent market as a valued commodity. He has not played in the exhibition season because of a strained right hamstring, though he has practiced over the last week.
Ward loves Denver, and playing on a defense that spearheaded the Super Bowl 50 win. Ward's impact goes beyond statistics as he serves a leader on the field and in the locker room. He brings an edge and football IQ that is appreciated and respected by teammates and coaches.
"I am just hearing that about T.J. I have been on the practice field," coach Vance Joseph said. "He's one of our better players so I would be surprised if he was (traded), but I have not heard that."
First and foremost, the NFL is a business, and never is this more obvious than the final week of preseason during roster shaves from 90 to 53 players. Ward will make $4.5 million this year at a position where the Broncos boast depth in second-year players Justin Simmons and Will Parks. Simmons plays safety more like a corner, known for his athleticism and range. Parks fits more of the Ward mold, featuring a physical style.
The Broncos, like most playoff contenders, face difficult cuts. They are expected to listen to offers on receiver Cody Latimer, who has never realized his potential as a receiver. Latimer made his mark the past three seasons as a special teams player, but no longer is a lock to make the roster. He has not played the last two preseason games because of a patellar tendon issue in his knee. Joseph said Latimer does not have to play this week because the team knows him. Joseph did not say this, but it goes without saying that Latimer sitting would prevent injury if the Broncos attempt to deal him for a late-round pick.
Joseph conceded it's a crowded receiver room with eight players competing for six spots, including Kalif Raymond.
"I want to go out there and ball, and show them what I can do," Raymond told Denver7. "I am not nervous at all. It's totally different this year. I feel confident."
Former starting left tackle Ty Sambrailo has been working at center this week as he attempts to make the roster. Versatility can't hurt, but he's on the bubble, it appears. ... Defensive end Zach Kerr walked into the facility Tuesday without a limp, an encouraging sign as he recovers from a bruised knee that is expected to keep him out of the season opener. ... Receiver Carlos Henderson spoke with Denver7 about his surgically-repaired left thumb. He said he hurt it blocking on a kick return. He remains in a cast for six weeks. "It's getting better," Henderson said.