Here are some photos from field level as players warmed up prior to tonight’s game:
The following players will not be active for the Broncos tonight: safety Brian Dawkins, wide receiver Eric Decker, tackle Ryan Harris, defensive end Derrick Harvey, linebacker Mike Mohamed, long snapper Lonie Paxton and tight end Julius Thomas.
For New England, quarterback Ryan Mallett, defensive back Nate Jones, running back Shane Vereen, linebacker Gary Guyton, offensive linemen Donald Thomas and Sebastian Vollmer and defensive lineman Ron Brace will not suit up tonight.
The Broncos made several transactions Friday to replace long snapper Lonie Paxton, who is unavailable for Saturday’s game against the Patriots after not practicing all week due to non-injury related reasons.
The team signed long snapper David Binn to the active roster and in turn, waived fullback Austin Sylvester. Binn is an 18-year veteran who spent the first 17 seasons of his career with the San Diego Chargers. He played in 179 consecutive games from 1998-2010 with San Diego and is no stranger to the postseason, having played in 12 career playoff matches with the Chargers.
He’ll be on the field for the Broncos Saturday wearing number 54.
On Sunday, the Patriots and Broncos will cross paths for the 45th time overall, and for the third time in postseason play. The Broncos owning a 27-17 advantage in the series.
The two clubs have met twice in the postseason with Denver winning both contests. The Broncos topped the Patriots 22-17 in an AFC Divisional Playoff game on Jan. 4, 1987, and defeated them 27-13 on Jan. 14, 2006 in another AFC Divisional Playoff matchup.
The Broncos have won six of the nine meetings between the two clubs in the past decade. At one point, Denver reeled off 11 consecutive victories over the Patriots (11/4/84-9/7/98).
Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock has proclaimed Friday, Jan. 13 to be “Orange Friday” in the city and county of Denver to support the Broncos before their AFC Divisional contest at New England, which will kick off at 6 p.m. MST on Saturday, Jan. 14.
“Denver is electric with enthusiasm for the Broncos,” Mayor Hancock said. “It’s up to our fans to come together, continue to show support for our team and give them the energy needed to keep this magical season going.”
As the Broncos continue their preparation for their rematch against the Patriots Saturday, one theme has been consistent throughout the defensive circles in the locker room; they need to limit the Patriots’ yards-after-catch.
In the last game, on multiple instances, the Patriots were able to pick up big chunks of yards after short completions. The Broncos know they can’t let that happen this game.
“It’s very critical,” cornerback Champ Bailey said. “You see a lot of short throws, and then here you go — a missed tackle here, a missed tackle there; a guy will make you miss. They’ve got a lot of good players that can run after the catch, and if we don’t limit that, we can see what can happen, because that’s what happened in the first game.”
In advance of Saturday’s Broncos-Patriots matchup in the Divisional round of the AFC playoffs, NFL Network has no shortage of Broncos coverage.
It all starts tonight (Wednesday) at 6 p.m. MST, when Denver’s thrilling 29-23 overtime victory against Pittsburgh in the Wild Card round will be replayed.
Immediately following that show will be Sound FX: Wild Card Weekend at 7:30 p.m. MST. The compilation of the best on-field sights and sounds from around the league last weekend includes wired sound from defensive end Elvis Dumervil.
On Thursday, the network will premiere Sound FX: Tom Brady & Tim Tebow at 7 p.m. MST. The show is described as a compilation of the best on and off field sounds from the New England Patriots quarterback and the Broncos signal caller.
Afterwards, at 7:30 p.m. MST, Denver and New England’s Week 15 clash will be replayed. The Broncos lost the game 41-23 after grabbing an early 16-7 lead.
Finally, on Friday at 6 p.m. MST, NFL Network will broadcast Tim Tebow: Season in Review.
“Tim Tebow’s magical run has brought the Denver Broncos all the way to a Divisional matchup against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots,” the show’s description reads. “Take a look back at Tebow’s storied 2011 season with wired sound and highlights.”
Against the Chicago Bears in Week 14, Brian Dawkins injured his neck.
Since then, the veteran safety has missed three games — including last week’s 29-23 win in the Wild Card round of the playoffs — and was absent from the majority of a fourth game when he left the Buffalo contest in Week 16 in the first quarter.
But Head Coach John Fox said Wednesday that there is some positive news.
“He’s way further along this week than he was last week, and we’ll play it by ear,” Fox said of Dawkins. “When he gets cleared medically, we’ll have him out there.”
Dawkins (neck) did not participate in Wednesday’s practice, and neither did Eric Decker (knee) and Lonie Paxton (personal).
David Bruton (Achilles), Daniel Fells (ankle) and Elvis Dumervil (ankle) had limited participation, and Von Miller (thumb) participated fully in the session, which was moved indoors due to snow.
Fox was asked about those players’ injuries after practice.
In Sunday’s win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the offensive line took pride in its performance.
Tim Tebow wasn’t sacked, the offense picked up 131 yards on the ground and the unit did it without one of its leaders.
“We miss Kup (Chris Kuper) terribly,” said Russ Hochstein, who took over Kuper’s right guard spot. “He was a phenomenal leader here and we miss him a lot. We wish (the injury) wouldn’t have happened, but I just have tried to step in and play the role that I’m supposed to and that’s to help out in situations like this. I’m just trying to play the best I can, trying to play mistake-free and help the guys out on both sides of me.”
Head Coach John Fox said Hochstein did “a great job” doing just that, and Willis McGahee agreed.
“Russ did an awesome job filling in for Kuper,” McGahee said Monday. “I don’t think there was really a dropoff even though Kuper is a big part of our offense.”
Part of that can be attributed to Hochstein’s experience.
When the New England Patriots were preparing to face a Broncos team riding a six-game win streak in Week 15, Head Coach Bill Belichick said he wasn’t surprised by the success Denver was having.
Many were surprised to see Denver upend the favored Steelers in the Wild Card round Sunday, but Belichick insisted he isn’t at all shocked to get a visit from the Broncos in the divisional round.
“When we played them out there, I said to a couple people after the game — a couple players of the Broncos and people on our staff coming back from the game — I wouldn’t be surprised to see them again,” Belichick said in a conference call today. “And I’m not.”