Welcome, wilkommen and bienvenue from the press box at INVESCO Field at Mile High, where I am sitting in my usual seat, high above the seven-yard-line at the north end of the stadium, the same vantage as I have enjoyed for the last five years.
Once again, the storylines leading into this game revolve around who is and who is not expected to play. So let’s recap the last few days in that regard.
RUNNING BACKS: Travis Henry, Mike Bell and Andre Hall will not play, leaving the running chores to Cecil Sapp, Selvin Young and the recently signed Cedric Cobbs.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Adam Meadows, Ryan Harris and Ben Hamilton did not practice throughout the week and will not play tonight. Matt Lepsis did practice and is expected to play throughout the first team’s work.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Brandon Stokley was in uniform each day this week after missing the previous two weeks. Brandon Marshall also took part in work throughout the week. Rod Smith remains on the physically unable to perform list.
DEFENSIVE LINE: With Ebenezer Ekuban injured, the Broncos signed John Browning, late of the Kansas City Chiefs. Assistant head coach Jim Bates said that Browning will work at tackle; he saw action at tackle and end during his 11 Chiefs seasons. Tim Crowder was not in uniform this week and will not play tonight.
With all the injuries at running back and on the defensive line, it seems as though some competitions have been lost in the shuffle — including the one at punter between incumbent Paul Ernster and 2005 returnee Todd Sauerbrun.
Sauerbrun has six punts and four kickoffs; Ernster has four punts and five kickoffs. Here’s how they stack up:
AVERAGE LENGTH: Ernster 70.8 yards, Sauerbrun 68.0 yards.
TOUCHBACK PERCENTAGE: Ernster 40.0 percent, Sauerbrun 25.0 percent.
AVERAGE DRIVE-START POSITION AFTER KICKOFFS: Ernster DEN 27.4; Sauerbrun DEN 29.0.
SHORTEST KICKOFFS: Ernster 63 yards, Sauerbrun 61 yards.
AVERAGE LENGTH: Sauerbrun 42.5 yards, Ernster 42.3 yards.
NET AVERAGE: Ernster 42.3, Sauerbrun 39.0.
PUNTS INSIDE THE 20: Ernster 3, Sauerbrun 0.
SHORTEST PUNTS: Ernster 33 yards, Sauerbrun 15.
Sauerbrun has been listed as the first-teamer on the depth chart, with Ernster as the No. 2 punter and kickoff man, but the two have alternated punts and kickoffs the last two weeks. Tonight could prove illuminating for the comppetition between the two.