The Broncos appear to be returning to some semblance of health, and at the most opportune of times.
Coach Vic Fangio confirmed Friday that cornerback A.J. Bouye, tight end Noah Fant and defensive end Dre’Mont Jones are each expected to play Sunday against Kansas City.
The capacity at which they’ll return will be to “different degrees for all three of those guys,” Fangio said.
Still, the Broncos (2-3) could use reinforcements as they take a two-game winning streak into a meeting with the defending Super Bowl champions who have been made to look a bit vulnerable by their AFC West opponents so far.
Oakland knocked off the Chiefs 40-32 on Oct. 11. In Week 2 the Los Angeles Chargers gave Andy Reid’s team a scare in a 23-20 Kansas City overtime victory.
In two games against AFC West opponents, the Chiefs have been outscored by five points. Contrast that with the 61 points by which they outscored the Raiders, Broncos and Chargers in their final meetings last year, and it looks like a trend is shifting.
Not that Fangio sees the Chiefs as anything less than the best team in the league.
“We obviously respect the fact that these guys are as good as they are,” he said. “They’re the defending champs. I’ve said it before, they were an offsides penalty in the 2018 (AFC) championship game from probably winning that Super Bowl and they’d be going for a three-peat here instead of a repeat.
“They’ve won the division several years in a row, they’re obviously the team you have to beat in this division, but I personally take each game the same way.”
The three pieces returning to the Broncos figure to be a major boost, if they’re close to full speed. Fant can provide a needed safety valve for young quarterback Drew Lock. Jones lifts a front seven that must contend with a versatile Chiefs offense that just added running back Le’Veon Bell to its arsenal. And in the secondary, Bouye was a key offseason acquisition at cornerback – obviously an important position when facing an MVP quarterback like Patrick Mahomes.
Injuries have crippled the Broncos since Von Miller’s ankle gave out just ahead of the opener. Now, perhaps that trend is shifting, too.
“We just want to go out there and really play Denver Bronco football,” defensive end Shelby Harris said.
And perhaps now the pieces are in place for that to happen.