For the past three weeks, the Broncos have tread a rocky road full of pot holes. Consecutive business trips to Kansas City, Arizona and Oakland all added losses to the team’s record.
But they have the luxury of spending the holidays at home. The team finishes their schedule with a two-game home stand, including a matchup with the Houston Texans on the day after Christmas.
Mario Haggan hopes to find a little Mile High magic in front of the home crowd.
“It would be great to come home in front of our fans right after the holidays and have some holiday cheer on Sunday and go out and play a great game,” Haggan said.
The linebacker said if the team wants to treat the fans to a positive performance, the players must pour all their focus into a sharp week of practice.
Interim Head Coach Eric Studesville gave his team a day off on Monday to recover and return to Dove Valley ready to work. The plan is to string together three crisp practices before a busy weekend.
Christmas comes on Saturday, and Haggan said game planning during the holidays is just “business as usual.”
“For guys that have been doing this as long as we have, we’re used to it,” he said. “Having to work around the holidays, that’s our job and that’s how we prepare.”
Jason Hunter said he will welcome a change on Sunday, when he won’t have to endure the jeers of another city’s fans.
The Broncos have compiled two-thirds of their win total at home, and they’ll host a Texans team used to 80-degree Decembers.
“It feels good to get back to INVESCO (Field at Mile High), get back here and feed off of some of the energy from the fans,” Hunter said. “We’ve been through some adversity, tough things have happened. But I think definitely winning these last two games would give everybody a good feeling leaving in January.”
Stanley Daniels went from starting at the beginning of the year to being waived on Dec. 11, signed to the practice squad and now signed back to the active roster.
Studesville announced the move in his Wednesday press conference when he also told reporters that the team placed Spencer Larsen on injured reserve.
“Stanley has already started four games for us this year,” Studesville said. “So, as far as him being in the game at this point in time with two weeks to go, we felt at this point in time that was a better situation on the offensive line for us.”
The team filled Daniels’ spot on the practice squad with linebacker Dominic Douglas. The undrafted free agent from Mississippi State University spent time on St. Louis’ practice squad earlier in the season.
Studesville also addressed the issue of replacing Larsen, the only fullback on the roster.
He would not go into specifics, but Studesville said the coaches know they have players capable of stepping in as the lead blocking back.
“We are going to look at all the possibilities that we can,” Studesville said. “Do you replace him? No, because he has reps and time at that spot, but again we have cross-trained people to do similar things in our offense and we are going to look at what the best situation is, the plays that we want against Houston, that give us the best chance.”
After missing last week’s contest, Brian Dawkins, Kyle Orton and Demaryius Thomas all got back on the field in Wednesday’s practice. Dawkins (knee), Orton (ribs), Thomas (ankle), David Bruton (ribs) and Darcel McBath (quadricep) were all limited in practice. Knowshon Moreno (ribs) and Matt Prater (right groin) did not practice.
Daniel Coats (finger) and Eddie Royal (lower back) fully participated in practice.
For the Texans, LB Brian Cushing (knee/ankle/foot), TE Garrett Graham (hamstring), WR Andre Johnson (ankle) and K Neil Rackers (right hamstring) did not practice. T Duane Brown (shoulder), RB Arian Foster (hip) and QB Matt Schaub (right elbow) all fully participated in practice.
-Gabe Hiatt, DenverBroncos.com
Below are pictures from Wednesday’s practice: