The Denver Broncos on Sunday signed tight end Marquez Branson, cornerback Tony Carter, guard Mitch Erickson, cornerback D.J. Johnson, inside linebacker Braxton Kelley, defensive lineman Everette Pedescleaux, running back Darius Walker and wide receiver Matthew Willis to their practice squad, it was announced.
Branson (6-foot-2, 241 pounds) is a rookie tight end from the University of Central Arkansas who joined the Broncos as a college free agent on April 27. He played in all four of Denver’s preseason games and recorded four catches for 26 yards (6.5 avg.). As a collegiate, Branson totaled 82 receptions for 1,236 yards (15.1 avg.) with 18 touchdowns and finished his collegiate career ranked fifth in school history with 18 receiving touchdowns. He also played at East Mississippi Community College where he added 17 catches for 175 yards (10.3 avg.) with a touchdown prior to transferring to Central Arkansas. Branson attended Starkville High School in Starkville, Miss., where he was a two-time all-state selection. Marquez Branson was born on Feb. 14, 1987, in Palmdale, Calif.
Carter (5-foot-9, 175 pounds) is a rookie cornerback who entered the NFL with the Broncos as a college free agent from Florida State University on April 27. He appeared in the first two preseason contests and contributed a special-teams stop. As a collegiate, Carter started all 50 career games he played and totaled 139 tackles (104 solo), nine interceptions (173 yds.) and 26 passes defensed. He added nine career punt returns for 132 yards (14.7 avg.) with one touchdown. Carter attended Mandarin High School in Jacksonville, Fla., where he was rated the No. 2 cornerback in the nation by Rivals.com and also saw time at quarterback and wide receiver. Tony Carter was born on May 24, 1986, in Jacksonville, Fla.
Erickson (6-foot-5, 286 pounds) is a first-year player from South Dakota State University who entered the NFL with the Broncos as a college free agent on April 28, 2008. He spent his rookie season on Denver’s practice squad. For the second consecutive season, Erickson appeared in all four preseason games for Denver in 2009. He received first-team All-America honors from the Associated Press as a senior at SDSU. Erickson attended Hutchinson High School in Hutchinson, Minn., and was born on May 14, 1985.
Johnson (6-foot-1, 191 pounds) is a rookie cornerback from Jackson State University who entered the NFL with the Broncos as a college free agent on April 27. He played in all four of Denver’s preseason games and totaled eight solo tackles, including one for a loss, and a pass defensed while adding a special-teams stop. He played in 24 games for Jackson State after beginning his collegiate career at the University of Missouri. He totaled 66 career tackles (52 solo) and 10 interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns, at Jackson State. He attended LaMarque High School in LaMarque, Texas. Domonique Johnson was born on Nov. 7, 1985, in Texas City, Texas.
Kelley (6-foot, 242 pounds) is a rookie inside linebacker who entered the NFL with the Broncos as a college free agent from the University of Kentucky. He played in three preseason contests and made three tackles (2 solo) on defense and a stop on special teams. Kelley totaled 287 tackles (175 solo), 6.5 sacks (30 yds.), four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and six pass breakups in 46 career games (42 starts) at Kentucky. He earned All-Georgia honors from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution at LaGrange High School in LaGrange, Ga. Braxton Kelley was born on Oct. 24, 1986, in LaGrange, Ga.
Pedescleaux (6-foot-4, 312 pounds) is a rookie defensive lineman from the University of Northern Iowa who entered the NFL with the Broncos as a college free agent on April 27. Pedescleaux posted a solo tackle in three preseason appearances for Denver. He played 51 career games (21 starts) at Northern Iowa and totaled 112 tackles, 11 sacks and six blocked kicks. Pedescleaux helped lead Northern Iowa to playoff appearances in 2005, ‘07 and ‘08 along with conference titles in each of those seasons. He earned third-team All-America honors from the Associated Press as a senior in 2008 when he registered 62 total tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks. Everette Pedescleaux was born on Jan. 19, 1985, in Plymouth, Minn.
Walker (5-foot-11, 220 pounds) is a third-year running back who joined the Broncos as a free agent on May 8. He entered the NFL with Houston as a college free agent on May 10, 2007. He led the Broncos and ranked 12th in the league with 173 rushing yards and two scores on 46 carries in four preseason games. Walker totaled 58 carries for 264 yards (4.6 avg.) and a touchdown while catching 13 passes for 81 yards (6.2 avg.) in four regular-season games with Houston as a rookie in 2007. He became the sixth player in the history of the University of Notre Dame to lead the Fighting Irish in rushing for three consecutive seasons as he was ranked fourth in school annals in rushing yards (3,249) and third in rushing attempts (693) at the end of his career. He attended Buford High School in Buford, Ga., where he was named the Georgia prep player of the year by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Darius A’Dunte Walker was born on Oct. 21, 1985, in Atlanta.
Willis (6-foot, 190 pounds) is a second-year wide receiver who joined the Broncos’ practice squad on Dec. 23, 2008. He appeared in all four preseason contests, contributing four kickoff returns for 99 yards (24.8 avg.), two punt returns for six yards and a 7-yard reception along with a special-teams tackle. Willis entered the NFL with Baltimore as a college free agent on May 4, 2007. He made one catch for 11 yards in five games as a rookie with the Ravens. In 21 collegiate games, Willis made 24 catches for 248 yards (10.3 avg.) with three touchdowns. Willis attended Servite High School in Anaheim, Calif. Matthew Anthony Willis was born on April 13, 1984, in Dallas.