Sylvester Williams is important for fortunes of Broncos’ defensive front

Like an old friend returning home to make good again, Sylvester Williams’ second-coming in Denver is important for the defensive front over the last half of 2020.

Williams, the Broncos’ first-round pick in 2013, played his first four seasons in Denver. Now, the Broncos need him to help re-stabilize a defensive front ravaged by season-ending injuries (Jurrell Casey, Mike Purcell) and COVID issues (Shelby Harris, who won’t play Sunday in Las Vegas).

“Sly is a guy who’s been a player in this league — high pick, played here, played for other teams (with the Titans, Lions Dolphins and Chargers),” Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said. “He’s loving his second opportunity to come back here. I know the guys enjoy him, the coaches enjoy him, and he’s making the most of it.”

Signed to the practice squad Oct. 3 and promoted to the active roster Oct. 17, Williams has played in three games, with two tackles and a pass deflection in 63 total defensive snaps. As valuable run-stuffing depth, he’s now the Broncos’ secondary nose guard behind DeShawn Williams, who started both games at the position following Purcell’s foot injury in Week 7.

Sylvester Williams’ return to relevance in Denver this year is the latest twist in his against-the-odds football career, which didn’t begin until his senior year in high school, when he started just one game. After high school, the sport wasn’t even on his mind as Williams went to work at a manufacturing plant, building radiators.