Welcome to the wild, wild AFC West.
Only three wins separate the first-place Chiefs from the last-place Broncos. With five divisional games left on the schedule, the Broncos are confident they have time to turn their season around.
“If you are down, obviously you would like to play those teams,” Kyle Orton said. “It’s a way to basically pick up two games. You have to play your best ball every week when you are at 2-6, which we are.”
Kansas City’s overtime loss to Oakland last Sunday during the Broncos’ bye set the perfect example for parity within the division. A win against the Chiefs at home this weekend could help kick start a trip from the basement to the penthouse of the AFC West.
“Especially with the game last week, the division is still wide open,” Ryan Harris said. “We feel that we need to just win one game right now, and we have a chance on Sunday.”
Zane Beadles said the team can’t afford to look past Sunday’s chance. The rookie offensive lineman said the players can’t get caught up in their first-half record, and instead should focus on what’s immediately in front of them if they hope to make a run at the division.
“We need to take it one week at a time and focus on going out and playing as best we can this week,” Beadles said. “I think that’s what you should be doing all through the season, just focusing on your next opponent. I think that’s what we’re doing this week, and hopefully the outcome is good.”
In Orton’s mind, the members of the team have to make a stand and put forth the same effort on game day that they do on the practice field. He echoed Beadles’ message, saying the only way to prove his team’s worth was one week at a time.
“That’s on us to go out and play well, and do that every week,” the quarterback said. “I don’t think we can sit and say we are going to play better in second half, we have to play better against Kansas City, and then once we do that — if we can get a win — we will see what we can do from there on out.”
Lance Ball bided his time. After filling out a spot on the active roster for the first two games this season, he found himself on the practice squad for the next six.
But after the bye week, the coaching staff decided to give him a shot. One day after the team signed Daniel Coats, it chose to waive the tight end and elevate Ball in his place after several teams expressed interest in the second-year running back.
“We have spent a lot of time with Lance. We like the way he has progressed in our system, and you have to make a choice sometimes,” Head Coach Josh McDaniels said. “You have invested a lot of time and effort into him (and) he has invested a lot of time and effort into our system.”
Robert Ayers (foot) and Andre’ Goodman (hip) did not practice on Wednesday, while Darcel McBath (ankle), Kevin Vickerson (groin) and Wesley Woodyard (hamstring) were limited in practice.
For the Chiefs, S Kendrick Lewis (hamstring), WR Dexter McCluster (ankle) and G Brian Waters (shoulder) were limited in practice.
-Gabe Hiatt, DenverBroncos.com
Below are photos from Wednesday’s practice: