Broncos come to Russell Wilson’s defense over latest insult

The Broncos have been unable to adequately protect Russell Wilson, who is on course to be sacked a career-high 56 times this season behind a patchwork offensive line

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos failed to adequately protect Russell Wilson, who is on course for a career-high sacking 56 times this season behind a patchwork offensive line and a string of backups and a back race.

However, some of his teammates stubbornly defended their beat-up quarterback from the final arrow aimed at him, a report on an NFL Network podcast that the QB “lost” some members of the locker room as the Broncos tumbled through a hugely disappointing season .

“I’ll say this: I’ll say Russ is an amazing leader,” said safety Justin Simmons. “He’s a great teammate and … I know it’s a quarterback-oriented league, but leadership never falls under one man.”

Simmons said there’s plenty to blame for the Broncos’ poor season, but he was stumped by the latest barb aimed at Wilson.

“I don’t know where this report could have come from, and quite honestly…I just want to put the questions to Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens,” Simmons said.

The Broncos (3-8) will be looking to score a three-game sled in Baltimore (7-4) on Sunday.

Denver’s rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who has taken a lot of heat himself in the Broncos’ squirming season, also dismissed the report.

“To me, it’s all gossip. I know this dressing room – we have a fantastic dressing room,” Hackett said. “If you look at a guy like Russ, he’s amazing. I’ve never seen anyone work so hard.

Guard Dalton Risner also dismissed the report, saying: “This is just hilarious in my opinion. This is funny. Because I don’t think it’s true. I know it’s not true. I know I know who Russell is. I respect him so much.” I respect the way he integrates into our dressing room.

“And I feel like he hasn’t been able to take a break all year,” Risner added. “I feel like people just make up rumors about him all year long, whether it’s that he’s not a good teammate or it seems he lost the dressing room or whatever it is. A lot of it is just so weird to me because I watch him work every day.

“I see how much he cares about the boys in the dressing room. And how dedicated he is to this game. And how he trains every day. And how he is on the football field.”

Wilson has thrown just eight touchdown passes this season as he tries to balance with Hackett’s offensive philosophies, a struggle compounded by injuries that have sidelined Javonte Williams, Tim Patrick and Garett Bolles, among others.

During Denver’s 10-23 loss to the Panthers last weekend, Wilson was down to three undrafted wide receivers and a fifth-round rookie.

Still, he took a lot of heat for Denver’s woes. Asked Wednesday if he felt any teammates had a problem with him, Wilson said, “No. I think that first of all everyone wants to win. … I have great relationships in this dressing room. So whoever trying to tear it down you can’t. The best part is that it’s been an amazing journey to come here, a moving year to be here… It’s a blessing to be on this team and I’m honored to be a part of it.”

Wilson turned 34 on Tuesday and his wife Ciara threw him a surprise birthday party attended by several dozen teammates.

“A bunch of people came,” Wilson said. “It was a great time celebrating with the boys.”

The Broncos are averaging just 14.2 points per game, and no team since the Cleveland Browns in 2000 went into December with a more clumsy offense.

Four of the Broncos’ first six games were in prime time and the Broncos lost three of four, averaging 13 points per game under the Lights, with their only win being an 11-10 slugbiter against the 49ers in Week 3.

They had a fifth game in prime time, but the league moved the Week 14 Chiefs-Broncos game out of the Sunday Night Football slot and into the afternoon.

“If you don’t win, things like this are going to happen,” Hackett said. Broncos come to Russell Wilson’s defense over latest insult

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