At his Friday afternoon press conference, Head Coach Josh McDaniels said Spencer Larsen (hamstring) and Eddie Royal (neck/head) have been ruled out of Sunday’s Week 16 matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles.
With Larsen and Royal’s absences, a host of other players will get some additional chances. McDaniels said Peyton Hillis will serve as the team’s primary fullback, while several other receivers could be called on to fill Royal’s void.
One of those individuals is rookie Kenny McKinley, who’s made an early dent in the kicking game. The South Carolina product has appeared in six games this season, with six kickoff returns for 136 yards and three punt returns for 37 yards.
McDaniels also said the first-year speedster will be ready if needed at wide receiver. While McKinley has yet to make a catch in 2009, he showed his potential with a 52-yard touchdown reception against the 49ers in the Aug. 14 preseason opener.
“He’ll be excited to play, I’m sure,” McDaniels said. “You’re careful not to overload somebody who’s never really played much in that situation for his first or second time to go in on offense. But he did pretty well for himself in the preseason. We know what he can do and we know what we want to try to protect if that’s the case.”
Another weapon that McDaniels said will have an opportunity to make an impact is Brandon Lloyd. While the seventh-year veteran has been inactive in 13 of the team’s 14 games, he also showed his potential in the preseason with six catches for 116 yards.
“We’ll see how it all unfolds,” McDaniels said.
With Royal out, the return game will also see some different faces contribute. Along with McKinley, fellow rookie Alphonso Smith might be the name called to fill Royal’s void. Smith has four punt returns for nine yards and one kickoff return for 18 yards
“Both are very capable,” McDaniels said. “We’ll see how it goes. There could be somebody else back there, too.”
Here are the statuses for seven Broncos listed on Friday’s Week 16 Injury Report. Both Larsen (hamstring) and Royal (neck/head) did not participate in Friday’s practice and are officially listed as out for Sunday’s contest in Philadelphia.
After not participating in Thursday’s practice, Ty Law (hamstring) was a limited participant on Friday. He is questionable for the game against the Eagles. David Bruton (illness), D.J. Williams (ankle), Correll Buckhalter (ankle) and Renaldo Hill (ankle) were all full participants and are listed as probable.
On the Philadelphia side, S Quintin Demps (ankle) was downgraded from a full participant on Thursday to a limited participant on Friday. He is questionable for Sunday’s game, as is QB Michael Vick (quadricep). G Nick Cole (knee), DE Trent Cole (hamstring), WR Kevin Curtis (knee), WR Jeremy Maclin (foot), DT Mike Patterson (wrist), RB Brian Westbrook (concussion) and WR Reggie Brown (shoulder) were all full participants on Friday and are listed as probable to play on Sunday.
Happy Holidays, Broncos Country.
– Chris Gentilviso, DenverBroncos.com