ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Thin at linebacker, the Denver Broncos made a roster move Saturday that cost them their most productive player at the position.
Down to Virgil Green as their only healthy tight end, the Broncos (3-6) promoted former Wisconsin Badger Austin Traylor from their practice squad. To make room, they waived third-year pro A.J. Derby, who missed practice all week with a shoulder injury while Jeff Heuerman (knee) was also out.
Derby, who was acquired from New England in a trade last year, led Denver's tight ends with 19 catches for 224 yards and two TDs this season. Green and Heuerman have 15 receptions for 194 yards and two TDs combined.
Coach Vance Joseph said Friday he wouldn't go into Denver's game Sunday against the Bengals (3-6) without a second option at tight end. He considered using a tackle at the position but decided instead to promote Traylor, who's been on Denver's practice squad since Dec. 20, 2016.
Combined with an inability to develop a productive slot receiver, Denver's middling tight end production has bogged down the Broncos during their five-game losing streak, although it hasn't forced coordinator Mike McCoy to back off on his reliance on three-receiver sets as his base formation.
On Friday night, general manager John Elway gave his first-year head coach and his staff a vote of confidence while insisting it's up to the players to pull the Broncos out of their rut. He suggested the team had gotten ''a little bit soft'' after a 3-1 start following a perfect preseason.
The Broncos have been outscored by almost 20 points a game during their losing streak.
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