Broncos-Raiders matchup No. 2: Phillips vs. Veldheer

Broncos-Raiders matchup No. 2: Shaun Phillips vs. Jared Veldheer

Broncos-Raiders matchup No. 2: Phillips vs. Veldheer
December 28, 2013, 8:45 am
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Shaun Phillips has 10 sacks this year, reaching double figures for the third time in his 10-year career. (USATSI)

Editor’s note: This is the second part in a series that spotlights three Broncos-Raiders matchups to watch Sunday afternoon, 1:25 p.m., at Oakland Coliseum.

[MATCHUP NO. 3: Louis Vasquez vs. Pat Sims]

Broncos DE/OLB Shaun Phillips vs. Raiders NLT Jared Veldheer

Tale of the tape:

Phillips (90): 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, 10th season, Purdue
Veldheer (68): 6-foot-8, 321 pounds, fourth season, Hillsdale

Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller was suspended to start the season, and hurt to end it. Elvis Dumervil’s fax that was never sent took him out of the mix before the season began.

Despite two huge losses, the Broncos pass rush keeps on trucking. That’s due in large part to an unheralded free-agent signing this offseason.

Denver imported Shaun Phillips from San Diego for a one-year, $1 million contract plus sack incentives. Turned out to be money well spent. Phillips has 10 sacks and 10 tackles for losses in 35 tackles, with an interception, five passes defensed and two forced fumbles.

Those are standout numbers for anyone, yet they remain standard for a solid career played outside the limelight.

The Raiders certainly know who Phillips is and what he’s capable of.

“He’s been huge for them,” head coach Dennis Allen said. “I think their ability to pick up a few guys to a defense that was already pretty good last year, pick up a guy like Shaun Phillips who fills that role of Von Miller when Von was out earlier in the year and obviously now with Von being out for the rest of the year (with a torn ACL), I think that’s a benefit to them.”

Phillips will move around some, especially with Miller playing a roving linebacker spot. He can fill that role -- as he did in San Diego’s 3-4 defense -- but he’s played some standard defensive end in the Broncos’ 4-3, with his hand in the dirt.

Phillips plays some right end, meaning left tackle Jared Veldheer will match up with him at several points during Sunday’s game. Phillips has performed well against tackles of the highest caliber with a slinky pass-rush ability that has served him well over the years.

Veldheer can deal with power rushers and speed guys alike, with the smarts to counter veteran savvy. If Veldheer can keep Phillips away from Terrelle Pryor and the athletic quarterback can get away from him when he doesn't, the Raiders passing game stands a fighting chance against Denver’s defense.