ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos released linebacker Todd Davis on Friday, making one of their most significant roster cuts of the preseason about 24 hours before rosters leaguewide go to 53 players.
Davis had missed most of training camp with a calf injury, but had returned to the practice field on a limited basis earlier this week. The move comes as the Broncos had also acquired linebacker Austin Calitro from the Cincinnati Bengals on Friday in exchange for defensive lineman Christian Covington.
Linebacker Mark Barron, who signed with the Broncos on Monday after he had cleared the COVID-19 testing protocol, steadily increased in participation in practice over the past week. So much so, Barron took a steady portion of snaps in the Broncos' first-team nickel package on Thursday, which had been one of Davis' duties.
Davis, 28, started at least 14 games for the Broncos in each of the past four seasons. He played in 82 games for Denver since the team claimed him off of waivers in November 2014.
Davis, who suffered a partially torn right calf muscle in last summer's training camp, suffered a left calf injury in practice Aug. 20 and had not practiced fully since. Davis had done some work in position group drills in recent days, but he had not appeared in any team drills. Barron had started to appear in Davis' spot in the nickel and Josey Jewell was playing in Davis' inside linebacker spot in the base defense.
Davis' future was a common topic in the offseason, especially before free agency and the draft, but the Broncos didn't make a major move at inside linebacker in either March or April. Davis talked about that earlier in camp.
"That's been in the noise probably the last couple years," Davis said. "I've kind of tuned it out now. I don't really listen to it. Whatever they want to do, that's what they're going to do. Year after year they continue to keep me here. I feel like they have faith in me. It's my job to go out there and perform right, and I'm going to continue to do that."
His injury, as well as the season-ending wrist injury to rookie linebacker Justin Strnad, changed the dynamic for the Broncos. Coach Vic Fangio had said the team was getting "a little thin" at inside linebacker. He also said president of football operations/general manager John Elway was being "proactive" when the team signed Barron.
Davis had become a productive player for the Broncos as he played in all 16 games on a 2015 team that went on to win Super Bowl 50. He then had at least 97 tackles in three of the past four seasons, and he topped 100 tackles in both 2018 and 2019.