Battered Broncos catch a break
AP Sports Writer
ENGLEWOOD – The Denver Broncos ensured themselves that they wouldn’t lose another player to injury Sunday by canceling their practice.
Their next workout isn’t until Tuesday.
The Broncos have been hit by more than a dozen injuries so far, most notably Elvis Dumervil’s torn chest muscle that’s expected to sideline him for the season.
Top draft pick Demaryius Thomas apparently injured his left foot Saturday night – the same one he broke in predraft workouts – and underwent further medical tests Sunday.
If, as expected, Thomas’ injury isn’t serious, it will be the first big break the Broncos have caught since they lost their top two tailbacks on the first day of training camp.
Fellow rookie receiver Eric Decker also suffered an injury to his left foot or ankle at the workout at Invesco Field on Saturday night that was attended by 20,782 fans, the largest crowd ever to watch a Broncos practice.
Thomas came off the field after landing awkwardly when he caught a short touchdown pass over the middle. He was in the midst of his third straight spectacular practice when he went down.
“We saw the last couple days what we thought we saw on film and I think the game is starting to slow down for him,” coach Josh McDaniels said. “Again, he’s still a rookie, he still made, I would say, plenty of mistakes this evening but you know, God gave him some things that he uses to his advantage and he does a great job of that.”
The Broncos needed a big receiver after trading away Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall to the Miami Dolphins, and they got two in the draft in Thomas and Decker, a third-rounder from Minnesota.
Although Thomas played in Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense, he appears way ahead of Decker, whose 2009 season was cut short when he tore a ligament in his left foot that required surgery and sidelined him for all of Denver’s offseason practices.
In his last three practices, Thomas has made a bunch of big plays and touchdowns, often reaching over defensive backs to snare passes.
“He’s 6-3, 228 pounds, you know? And he can run,” McDaniels said. “Those kinds of plays are rare to make in this league and if you’re fortunate enough to have a player that can do some of those things, I think it makes your football team better.”
Although the Broncos are banged up at receiver and running back – even LenDale White (ankle) got hurt two days after being signed following injuries to Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) and Correll Buckhalter (back), their quarterback play has been a highlight of camp.
Incumbent starter Kyle Orton is playing with a precision not seen last year, when he dealt with injuries to both ankles, messing up his throwing mechanics. And newcomers Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow, their other first-round pick, have made their share of big plays so far.
All of them looked sharp Saturday night.
Well, Tebow didn’t look so good when he took his helmet off to sign autographs.
In a rookie ritual, Tebow’s head was shaved by linebacker Wesley Woodyard so that he looked like a friar. Other rookies had half their heads shaved or bald stripes carved into their long locks.
“I think the rookies all had a good time with it,” Tebow said, “and I know the veterans really enjoyed it.”