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.
2006 Season StatsTotSoloAstFFSackInt634815170
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."
And to top it off, Travis Henry has a knee sprain!!!!!!!