The first snow at Dove Valley forced the Broncos into the South Suburban Sports Dome for today’s practice. And the players were in a light mood, cracking jokes left and right — after all, since they won last week they didn’t have to wear helmets at practice.
Though he didn’t speak with the media today, Champ Bailey was definitely the player everyone had their eyes on.
He did not practice on Wednesday and participated on a limited basis Thursday.
When he initially suffered his injury against the Patriots, Head Coach Mike Shanahan and Bailey believed it would be 4-6 weeks before he returned.
Bailey participated in today’s practice as well, though in actuality, it was more of a walkthrough since the bad weather forced the Broncos into the Dome for practice.
“He practiced today,” Shanahan said. “He’s feeling better. Hopefully no setback and we’ll kind of see how he feels before the game.”
If he is healthy enough to play on Sunday, it will surely boost the defense that already has injuries across the board. Prior to his injury, Bailey had lamented the fact that he hadn’t had as many opportunities to make plays — after all, quarterbacks never threw to his side.
NO GROUND WORRIES
Another thing Shanahan spoke about after today’s practice was the situation at running back, and as he said, when injuries decimate a running back corps, things are going to change.
“I think we’ve probably thrown the ball a little bit more this year than we have in the past, but any time you lose five of your guys you’re always going to be tested,” Shanahan said. “I still have a good feeling about the guys that we’ve got.”
And those guys of course include Peyton Hillis, P.J. Pope, the newly added Tatum Bell and the still injured Selvin Young, who has not participated in practice this week.
“I think Peyton Hillis did a great job, he played well,” Shanahan said. “And we’ve got Tatum back. Pope’s been with our system for about seven weeks. Obviously Tatum’s got the experience and the other two guys have really stepped up. I’ll be surprised if we don’t run the ball well.”
THOUGHTS ON LYNCH
With the breaking news that John Lynch will announce his official retirement from the NFL on Monday, a couple players shared their thoughts on their former teammate.
Dre’ Bly had high praise for the hard-hitting safety.
“You’re talking about a guy that laid it all on the line when he was out there on the field,” Bly said. “He’s been a captain, he’s been a leader, and that’s what kind of guy you want in the league. I can tell my kids when they grow up that I had a chance to play with John Lynch, because he is going to be a Hall of Famer.”
Brandon Stokley too talked a little bit about Lynch, but he saw things from a different perspective than Bly — not because he disagreed but rather because he was on the receiving end of some of Lynch’s hard hits.
“You always knew where John was – that’s the thing,” Stokley said. “When people are back there, those hard-hitting safeties, you always know where they are. John was one of those guys.”
Earlier in the week, we told you that Jay Cutler and Eddie Royal were up for awards.
Well, they won.
Cutler has been voted the Fed Ex Air Player of the Week for Week 10 after completing 24-of-42 passes for 447 yards and three touchdowns.
Royal has earned Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Week honors for his performance as well, catching six passes for 164 yards and his 93-yard touchdown. This is the second time Royal has won the award — the first coming in the Broncos’ Week 1 41-14 win over the Raiders.
Big congrats to Jay and Eddie!
– Adam Zinser, DenverBroncos.com
And here is some photographic evidence that despite the cold and snowy weather, the men in orange and blue didn’t let it keep them from finalizing their preparation for this weekend’s game.
But the lighting (or lack thereof) can make things a little blurry…