The Broncos are currently missing two key starters on their defense, but based on their record and their gaudy defensive statistics, you wouldn’t know it.

Linebacker Shane Ray and defensive end Jared Crick both started the regular season on the Broncos’ injured reserve list — Ray with a torn ligament in his wrist, and Crick with a back injury that required surgery — and as a result, both are unavailable for the team until at least Week 8, where the Broncos would face off against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Crick, who came over from the Houston Texas in 2016, has been an essential piece in the rushing defense. Ray, meanwhile, was due to continue his pace from a breakout 2016 season as a pass rusher, where he sacked the quarterback eight times, second on the team only to Von Miller.

With both out, it has been up to the backups to fill in and ensure the defense remained strong. Defensive end Adam Gotsis and linebacker Shaquil Barrett have stepped up brilliantly.

Gotsis, a second-year defensive end from Georgia Tech, was taken by the Broncos with the 63rd overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. With no starts last year, Gotsis was a footnote on the Broncos defense, having five tackles and nine assists through 16 games. Standing in for Crick, though, Gotsis has been an essential key for the front seven’s success against the run this season.

Through four games, Gotsis has started three and has recorded 10 tackles, three assists and one stuff that resulted in a four-yard loss. As a result of Gotsis’ contributions to the run defense, the Broncos are holding opposing rushers to an average of 50.8 yards per game and 2.4 yards per carry.

Barrett, meanwhile, has helped contribute to both the pass rush and the run defense. Through the first four games, Barrett has been on the field for almost 90% of the snaps, fourth on the team behind only defensive backs Aqib Talib, Justin Simmons and Chris Harris. He has nine tackles and three assists, as well as one stuff for three yards. Barrett also has a Week 1 sack of Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott to his credit; Barrett had four tackles and three assists in that season-opening win.

The Broncos’ current plan is for Shane Ray to return in the Week 8 matchup against the Chiefs. If all goes according to plan, the team would then have to decide between Crick and tight end Jake Butt as the second of the Broncos’ two allowed players to return from IR.

If worse come to worst, however, and neither player is able to return, the Broncos can remain confident that backups Gotsis and Barrett can continue to hold their own with the rest of the starting defense.