Noting the cuts as the Broncos get down to 53 …
- Drayton Florence has little left — and the Broncos knew it. His preseason was defined by plays where he looked a step or two slow, and the Broncos learned what Buffalo saw last year: that at 31 and with fading speed, he was a liability in coverage. For now, Tony Carter will be the fourth cornerback, John Elway said, with Omar Bolden the No. 5 cornerback and potential kickoff returner. “Tony is a guy that we felt was a better football player,” Elway said. The move means the Broncos have nothing to show for the $1.5 million signing bonus given to Florence, and also have no experienced depth at cornerback behind Champ Bailey, Tracy Porter and fifth defensive back Chris Harris.
- Knowshon Moreno dominated on Thursday night, capping a summer in which he recovered from knee surgery and showed enough improvement to justify his place. “We were excited about where Knowshon was, how he ran the ball and continued to get better throughout camp,” said Elway. “Knowshon probably makes us a better football team.”
- Caleb Hanie stays, but for how long? Two former John Fox/Mike McCoy backups with Carolina could be available; the Bears cut Josh McCown, while Matt Moore is one of four quarterbacks in Miami and is being shopped around. McCown outplayed Hanie in Chicago after replacing him last December following four successive defeats, but struggled in his preseason work this summer and lost the Bears’ backup battle to Jason Campbell. “At this point in time, we decided to go with three quarterbacks,” Elway said. But he also added that the roster is “fluid.” Stay tuned.
- There wasn’t much thought to releasing tight end Julius Thomas, even though he struggled in the preseason as he tried to put his lingering ankle injury behind him. Thomas admitted late in training camp that his ankle was only at “80 percent,” but it was good enough for him to play late in the preseason — and good enough for him to be the Broncos’ only backup tight end behind Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen.
- John Fox indicated that he didn’t need to see much of Keith Brooking on the field this summer because his 15 seasons of play offered enough tape for him to know where Brooking stood. Thus, it was no surprise when Brooking made the 53-man roster, even though his hamstring injury kept him from taking a single preseason snap and sidelined him from practice until Tuesday. “We’re going off the reputation and leadership that he can bring,” Elway said.
- Brooking’s arrival was one of two factors that likely cost Mike Mohamed his job. Mohamed’s primary asset was his versatility, but Brooking delivers that, since he can fill in at weakside and middle linebacker. When undrafted rookie Steven Johnson spent the last two games at middle linebacker channeling Charles Jefferson from Fast Times at Ridgemont High (okay, not quite — but he flourished and played aggressively nonetheless), Mohamed’s die was cast. “He made a lot of of plays in the games, continued to get better week in and week out and also worked hard on special teams,” Elway said.
- Jeremiah Johnson, who was cut on Friday, is practice-squad eligible, but will the Broncos have room for a fifth tailback and sixth back overall on the combined 61-man roster? The Broncos will likely have to add two offensive linemen to the practice squad so they can go two-deep at practice, need a fourth tight end (which could be Cornelius Ingram, who was waived Friday) and could bring back quarterback Adam Weber. There might not be room for Johnson, explosive though he is.
- One of the tougher calls was between safeties Rafael Bush and David Bruton, but Bruton’s two punt blocks against Seattle on Aug. 18 helped him get the nod. Bush has practice-squad eligibility, however, and it would be no surprise to see him land there.
WAIVED (15): DE Jamie Blatnick, FS Rafael Bush, LBs Jerry Franklin and Mike Mohamed, DT Ben Garland, Gs Adam Grant and Wayne Tribue, SS Duke Ihenacho, TE Cornelius Igram, RB Jeremiah Johnson, WRs Greg Orton and Gerell Robinson, NT Sealver Siliga, CB Syd’Quan Thompson, QB Adam Weber.
RELEASED (4): CB Drayton Florence, OT Ryan Harris, WR Jason Hill, G Tony Hills.
SUSPENDED (2): LB D.J. Williams (six games), TE Virgil Green (four games).
INJURED RESERVE (1): DE Jeremy Beal (knee).