For the first time this season, Kyle Orton’s name filled out a spot on the injury report.
The quarterback participated in Wednesday’s practice in a limited capacity as he nursed the rib injury he suffered last Sunday in Arizona. Orton returned to finish that game and said he never doubted his ability come back and perform through the pain.
“They asked me, and I said I wanted to keep on going,” he said. “I was sore coming out of the game for sure. I just keep on getting the treatment throughout the week and (I’ll) be as healthy as I can.”
The Cardinals intercepted Orton three times in the contest, but the Broncos’ signal-caller did not attribute his play to the injury.
In each of the past two games, Orton has thrown for less than 200 yards and been held without a touchdown pass.
“You have to go out and play well,” Orton said. “I have to go out and play better than I have the last couple of weeks.”
Interim Head Coach Eric Studesville said in his Wednesday press conference that his coaching staff and his No. 1 quarterback are working as hard as they can to return the passing game to form.
Orton still ranks fourth in the league with 3,653 passing yards and boasts a touchdown to interception ratio higher than two-to-one. Studesville said Orton is “absolutely” penciled in to start at Oakland this weekend.
“A lot of our guys are banged up right now,” Studesville said. “It is Week 14 in the NFL, and guys that have been playing consistently have bumps and bruises. Kyle does have some bumps and bruises.”
Last year’s matchup against the Redskins on the road indicates that Orton would not force himself to play if he did not feel physically capable of delivering his top performance.
The quarterback took himself out of that game with a hobbled ankle, and missed his only start of the season the following week against the Chargers. Orton came off the bench in that game, entering the contest only when he was called on to relieve Chris Simms.
“I have come out of a game before,” Orton said. “I have hurt my ankle bad enough. I did it last year where I hurt my ankle bad enough I didn’t feel like I could play and be a help, so I didn’t play.”
If the coaches and the training staff do not deem Orton healthy enough to play on the road this weekend, it could mean more playing time for Tim Tebow, who has served as the backup quarterback for the majority of the season.
Tebow said live game action could speed up his learning curve.
“I think it’s a great learning opportunity to have real, live reps and to have that opportunity,” he said. “I think that would help, but either way, I think I’m getting experience just by watching and by practicing and going against a great defense every day.”
As a competitor, Tebow said he would love to play, but he has also expressed a desire to support the team in any role he’s given. The rookie knows he has plenty of time to develop into a professional-caliber player.
“I don’t know that it was this season that I had to prove to myself to be an NFL quarterback,” he said.
“That’s something that I think comes down deep and is something that is deep down inside of your heart and I know that whatever it takes, however long it takes, whatever determination and focus it takes, I’ll end up putting in that effort and determination and get the job done.”
Orton (ribs) was limited in Wednesday practice, while Kevin Alexander (ankle), David Bruton (ribs), Brian Dawkins (knee), Brandon Lloyd (calf), Matt Prater (right groin), Demaryius Thomas (ankle) and Marcus Thomas (ankle) did not practice. Eric Decker (foot), Spencer Larsen (hamstring) and Darcel McBath (quadricep) fully participated in practice.
For the Raiders, DB Nnamdi Asomugha (ankle), WR Johnnie Lee Higgins (ankle), LB Rolando McLain (foot) and DT Richard Seymour (knee) did not practice. T Khalif Barnes (back), QB Kyle Boller (quadricep), S Hiram Eugene (ribs) and WR Nick Miller (ankle) were all limited in practice. S Tyvon Branch (shoulder), LB Travis Goethel (knee), CB Chris Johnson and TE Zach Miller fully participated in practice.
-Gabe Hiatt, DenverBroncos.com
Below are pictures from Wednesday’s practice: