Brian Dawkins expects to be back on the field on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers after missing two straight games due to a knee injury.
The veteran safety has been on the sidelines for the last two home games, firing up the crowd and inciting his teammates — not a position he wants to get used to.
“It was very tough,” Dawkins said. “I’m not on the team to be a cheerleader. But that was my duty as far as what I felt, anyway, to do whatever I could for my teammates. Whether it be on the sideline telling them what I saw as far as different coverages, helping Nate (Jones) out as much as I can and pumping up the crowd as much as I can. That’s all I could do at that point.
“It will obviously be different this week.”
His teammate in the secondary, Andre’ Goodman, is on pace to return to the starting lineup in London as well after having missed four games and the majority of a fifth with a quadricep injury.
“We feel better about having those guys back in there because of the comfort level we have with their ability to communicate and make sure everybody is playing the same call — that’s always the first thing that the secondary has to do anyways,” Head Coach Josh McDaniels said. “Both of them are very good players, so it’s a big boost for us. (We) feel good about both of them, in terms of the progress that they’ve made and we’re excited to have them back.”
In other injury news, Robert Ayers, Perrish Cox, Darcel McBath, Kevin Vickerson and Wesley Woodyard will not travel with the team to London. Eddie Royal had limited participation in Thursday’s practice after not participating on Wednesday, and will make the trip. Dawkins and Goodman both practiced fully for the second consecutive day.
For San Francisco, QB Alex Smith and C Eric Heitmann are both out for Sunday’s game. TE Vernon Davis hasn’t practiced on either Wednesday or Thursday. CB Tarell Brown had limited participation on Thursday after not practicing Wednesday. CB Nate Clements and RB Anthony Dixon have been limited in practice on both Wednesday and Thursday, and LB Ahmad Brooks had full participation in Thursday’s practice after not taking part in Wednesday’s session.
John Elway will serve as an honorary captain for the Broncos on Sunday at Wembley Stadium, while Jerry Rice will represent the 49ers. Both men will take part in the coin toss.
The Hall of Famers will be joined by two British Olympians who will take part in the 2012 games in London. Mo Farah — the 10,000m and 5,000m gold medalist at this summer’s European Athletics Championships — will serve as the Broncos’ other honorary captain. Three-time Olympic gold medallist yachtsman Ben Ainslie will stand alongside Rice for San Francisco.
The Broncos will take off for London in the next couple hours and, due to the time difference, arrive at their destination Friday morning.
“We’re telling them to sleep on the plane as much as possible,” Head Coach Josh McDaniels said. “Once we’re there, we’re trying to treat it like a normal Friday.”
The team will then get checked into the hotel, go through a meeting and watch film from Thursday morning’s practice before holding a practice session Friday afternoon — on a cricket field or a tennis court under a bubble, depending on the weather.
On Saturday, the team will hold one final walkthrough in advance of Sunday’s clash at Wembley Stadium.
DenverBroncos.com will have coverage throughout the entire transatlantic journey.
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com