The Broncos (7-1) still sport the league's top defense after being knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten Sunday at Indianapolis. But they lost Pro Bowl linebacker DeMarcus Ware to a recurrent back injury and Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib to a one-game suspension for poking a player in the eye.
Add those to first-round draft pick Shane Ray's absence with a knee injury and suddenly, Denver's defense isn't so deep.
Coach Gary Kubiak said he was concerned about Ware's latest injury, which is expected to sideline him at least two weeks and possibly into December.
Ware, who has a history of back and neck problems, missed a game earlier this season with a similar injury, although he almost certainly would have missed another had the Broncos not had a bye week during that span.
He left Sunday's loss at Indy just before halftime after recording a sack in the second quarter to tie John Abraham for 10th place on the NFL's all-time sack list with 133 1-2 career QB takedowns.
On Monday, Kubiak said, ''I'll be honest with you, there is concern. I know he wasn't feeling very good after the game at all. I talked to him via text kind of bus-to-bus when we were coming from the airport back home (Sunday) night. He told me he was feeling better.''
The Broncos lead the league with 30 sacks and Ware leads the team with 6 1-2 sacks, including one against the Chiefs in Week 2, when Talib had a key interception.
Ware teams with Von Miller to give the Broncos the best edge-rushing tandem in the NFL. With Ware out, Shaq Barrett will start opposite Miller.
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