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Pass rusher Gregory eager to rejoin Broncos with knee healed


AP Sports Writer

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Randy Gregory’s knee injury has taken a little longer than expected to heal.

To the point where, at this stage, it would be perfectly understandable if the Denver Broncos pass rusher elected to shut things down for the season.

After all, he hasn’t played in more than two months and the Broncos (3-10) have fallen out of postseason contention.

Direction question: Why not shut it down?

“I’ve shut it down enough,” explained Gregory, who’s hoping to be activated off injured reserve and play Sunday against Arizona (4-9). “I’ve missed a lot of time. I want to help where I can. I understand the landscape, the situation we’re in as a unit, but it’s important to go out there and end the season on a good note.”

Gregory was brought in last offseason on a five-year, $70 million deal to do exactly what he had been doing — disrupt things in the backfield. He had two sacks, seven QB hits and forced a pair of fumbles before hurting his knee at Las Vegas on Oct. 2.

As he recovered from a knee procedure, he watched a dynamic defense help keep the Broncos in game after game as Russell Wilson and the offense struggled to put points on the board. He also watched the emergence of young linebackers Baron Browning and Nik Bonitto.

“I wish it would have happened earlier,” Gregory said of his return. “But it was important for me to get back the right way and be healthy and be the player I know I can be.”

First step, he had to rebuild the trust in his knee. To do that, he took a different sort of approach by revisiting football moves such as the one in which he was injured on while chasing Derek Carr during a fourth-quarter play.

“I had talked to a doctor and told me, ‘Go back to the scene of the crime,’” Gregory explained. “That’s something that with injuries I feel like a lot of times you don’t do. You do workouts, exercise therapies, to strengthen and get the mobility, but actually going out there and doing the actual move that you injured it on — you don’t do that a lot.”

The approach only bolstered his confidence.

“A big part of it was me being able to go out there and feel confident and making football-specific moves and not feeling like I need to take an extra step,” Gregory said. “Or not feeling like I can’t put my knee down the right way. That’s a big part of getting back at the right time.”

His teammates are looking forward to him rejoining a unit that features one of the league’s best pass defenses.

“He’s obviously super-talented at getting to the quarterback,” safety Justin Simmons said. “He’s a game-wrecker.”

That’s a big reason why the Broncos targeted Gregory in the offseason, despite his suspension- and injury-filled time with Dallas. Gregory had 16 1/2 sacks over 50 games with the Cowboys after they took him in the second round of the 2015 draft.

He’s eager to be out there again, to develop more of a rapport with his teammates before the season concludes.

“It gets to a point where it’s frustrating to see where we’re at and I know I can help,” Gregory said. “I want to help. But I want to help them the right way.”

NOTES: Wilson was limited in practice Thursday as he progresses through the concussion protocol. … Wide receivers Kendall Hinton and Courtland Sutton both didn’t practice for a second straight day because of hamstring injuries. … Defensive end Dre’Mont Jones (hip) also didn’t practice Thursday. “He’s seeing some hip specialists,” coach Nathaniel Hackett said.


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