Last year at this time, the Broncos were preparing to play the Giants in a primetime Thanksgiving night clash.
This season, Head Coach Josh McDaniels had the opportunity to give his players and coaches the most conventional holiday possible by NFL standards.
McDaniels moved up Thursday morning’s practice to ensure the players had the afternoon off to spend with their families. The coaches worked late on Tuesday night to get ahead on gameplanning normally reserved for Thursday, so they’ll have a little extra time away from the Dove Valley training facility, too.
“We talked about it this morning in the squad meeting that we’re fortunate to be practicing and/or playing on Thanksgiving Day, because it means we’re doing something we enjoy doing,” McDaniels said. “There are a lot of people that I know football is a big deal (for) on Thanksgiving, and we’re happy to have one another to celebrate it with and when we leave, I’m sure everybody will spend the day with their families, as I will.”
Building in time in the schedule away from the football field fit into the plans during an already short week after Monday night’s loss in San Diego. The team returns to action Sunday against St. Louis at INVESCO Field at Mile High.
Denver benefitted from an extra day to get ready each of the last two weeks with a bye week preceeding a Week 10 win against Kansas City before playing the Chargers until the following Monday.
The team, which had off Tuesday as usual, has not practiced in full pads either of the last two days and McDaniels said the team would not hit in practice this week because of the shorter recovery time for players.
“I think we all like a shorter week better than a longer week,” Spencer Larsen said. “It’s nicer just having things real focused and having to get dialed in real early.”
Like most around the country, the holiday gave several Broncos a chance to reflect on the most important aspects of their lives and remember Thanksgivings past. Robert Ayers told reporters about his attempts in the kitchen during the holiday, trying to make Jell-o as his mother, grandmother and aunts took care of the more important parts of the meal, while Knowshon Moreno made sure to praise his mother’s culinary skills.
Denver has played on Thanksgiving four of the past 10 years, so it’s no surprise players and coaches especially appreciated the chance to be with their families today.
“I’m thankful for family, life, the opportunity to be in this locker room and the opportunity to display my talents on Sundays,” Mario Haggan said.
The injury report for Sunday’s game did not change on Thanksgiving with each player listed maintaining the same practice status.
For the Broncos, D.J. Williams (concussion) practiced with limited participation, and Robert Ayers (foot) had full participation for the second straight day.
Andre Goodman (hip), Darcel McBath (quadricep) and Demaryius Thomas(ankle) have already been ruled out of Sunday’s game by McDaniels and have not practiced this week.
For the Rams, P Donnie Jones (left calf) and WR Danario Alexander (knee) had limited participation in Thursday’s practice, while WR Laurent Robinson (toe) and T Rodger Saffold (shoulder) had full participation.
-Eric Detweiler, DenverBroncos.com
Below are some photos from Thursday’s workout: