By Arnie Stapleton, AP Pro Football Writer
Meet Lorenzo Doss, the newest member of the “No Fly Zone.”
The speedy second-year cornerback has been buried deep in Denver’s depth chart. But the fifth-round draft pick out of Tulane in 2015 had a terrific training camp and came up huge against San Diego on Sunday when Aqib Talib and Kayvon Webster were injured.
“He’s been making plays all year,” safety Darian Stewart said. “Doss is a playmaker, and that’s what people don’t know about him.”
That’s because his slew of interceptions, including two pick-sixes of Mark Sanchez, came in training camp this summer, and his interception of Chicago’s Brian Hoyer, came in the preseason opener.
Doss played 40 snaps Sunday against San Diego after Webster pulled a hamstring in the first quarter with Talib in street clothes because of a bad back.
He had two of Denver’s 13 pass breakups in the Broncos’ 27-19 victory .
The first one resulted in an interception by Stewart that Denver turned into a touchdown. The other was a game-saving deflection on fourth-and-goal with 2:40 remaining when Philip Rivers tried to zing a pass to tight end Hunter Henry.
“Let the quarterbacks keep trying him,” Stewart said. “He’s going to make plays on them.”
Doss played in six games as a rookie but had only played in one game, against Atlanta, this season. When Talib’s back tightened on him during Saturday’s walkthrough, coach Gary Kubiak decided to activate Doss against the Chargers.
Doss could be higher on other team’s depth charts and maybe farther along in his career had he been drafted elsewhere, but he believes being on the Broncos is a blessing even if he’s biding his time in this star-studded secondary.
“You feed off the talent,” Doss said. “Bradley (Roby) goes out there and gets a pick-six early in the game. We were talking about it right before that. We were saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got to go get our hands on the ball.’ That was something we were stressing. And he goes out there and he gets a pick-six. So, then, I’m like: ‘OK, I’ve got make a play. It’s my turn.’
“So I get my hands on the ball. And D-Stew ends up picking it off. And then T.J., right after that he gets a pick. It’s just our mindset in this locker room. We all have to make plays, be game-changers.”
Doss also got his fingertips on a third pass, but that one somehow was pulled in by wide receiver Travis Benjamin for a one-handed, 14-yard touchdown catch late in the third quarter.
“Oh, I think my coverage was pretty good,” Doss said. “I mean, when somebody makes a play like that, you think to yourself, you can always play it a little better. He made a good play. He’s a good receiver.”
Doss stayed down for a bit, putting a scare into Denver’s sideline for a few seconds. But it was just that his calves had cramped when he jumped. So he got some water and did some stretching.
“It was no big deal because I was in right after that,” Doss said.
Good thing, too, because Denver’s sixth win came down to a goal line stand in the closing minutes in which Rivers threw four times from the 2, all incompletions. Hurried on first and second downs, Rivers threw the ball away. Then, he overthrew Antonio Gates with rookie safety Will Parks in coverage on third down before testing Doss on fourth down with a quick throw at the goal line.
Doss read the play perfectly, stepped in front of Henry and knocked down the pass.
“I mean, from first down to fourth, I thought it was coming my way,” Doss said. “That whole series, I thought the ball was coming at me, and I was ready for it.
“Yeah, I’m definitely expecting that,” Doss said. “And my mindset is if they come at me, I’m going to make the play. I ain’t going to back down.”
Said Kubiak: “This has to be a big game in Doss’ career.
“There are moments in your career where you come in, gain confidence that you can do something,” Kubiak said. “He got put on the spot and made some really big plays in the game, so I’m looking forward to him building off that.”