ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The Denver Broncos have waived safety Duke Ihenacho, opening a roster spot that could be filled by linebacker D.J. Williams.
Williams was reinstated Monday after sitting out the first nine games of the season while serving two separate NFL suspensions. He'll practice Wednesday for the first time since training camp, where he was relegated to individual drills and backup duty while the Broncos prepared his replacements for the regular season.
The Broncos (6-3) can evaluate Williams over the next few days before activating him to the 53-man roster. Coach John Fox said the coaching staff needs to see him practice before making any decisions.
The team's leading tackler in five of the past eight seasons, Williams said Monday that it was difficult to watch his teammates play without him, "but I did the crime, gotta do the time. It's over with now. Hopefully, I can move on and help my team continue to keep winning."
Williams was suspended for the first six games of the season for violating the league's banned-substances policy after the NFL said he supplied a "non-human" urine sample during a drug test. Commissioner Roger Goodell tacked on three games for Williams' second alcohol-related driving conviction in August.
He forfeited in the neighborhood of $4 million from a combination of lost salary, money he had to pay back from his bonuses and a restructuring of his contract that he agreed to because of the suspensions.
Williams praised the Broncos' starting linebackers — Wesley Woodyard, Keith Brooking and Von Miller — for their solid performances so far and said he'll play whatever role he's asked, including special teams, but hopes to return to a prominent position on the team before long.
"Without being out there for a long time, there will be some rust," Williams acknowledged. "But football's a great sport to come back to, because when it doubt, just hit somebody."
Ihenacho has been up and down between the Broncos' practice squad and active roster all season. The undrafted rookie from San Jose State has played in two games and made one special teams tackle.
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