ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – In the end, the bell likely tolled for Nate Jones’s Broncos career when he was called for an end-zone pass-interference penalty early in the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s preseason win over the Seattle Seahawks.
At that point, Jones was working with the second team opposite cornerback Perrish Cox, but ahead of Syd’Quan Thompson, whose place on the roster seemed assured because of his potential and his ability to fill in on punt returns, shown most prominently with a 62-yard runback during the 2010 preseason.
Jones’s primary attribute was his versatility; he could back up at all defensive backfield positions and started twice last year at safety and once at cornerback.
But with the Broncos seemingly set to keep a cadre of young reserves in the secondary — including five rookies or second-year players among the eight defensive backs on the two-deep depth chart — a veteran like Jones wasn’t necessary, not with Champ Bailey, Andre’ Goodman and Brian Dawkins all expected to start and provide the requisite experienced leadership for the group.
Being a vested veteran, Jones was released rather than waived.
Among the six players waived by the Broncos, only defensive end David Veikune saw regular-season playing time, working on special teams and at outside linebacker last year. The change to a 4-3 defense moved Veikune back to defensive end; he never advanced beyond the third team during training camp or the preseason.
The others to be waived were linebackers Braxton Kelley and Deron Mayo, offensive linemen Shawn Murphy and Curt Porter and running back C.J. Gable. The Broncos’ roster sits at 80 men; if they want to make any waiver claims during the first round of cuts Tuesday, they’ll have to waive or release someone immediately.