ENGLEWOOD—With Emmanuel Sanders out and Demaryius Thomas gimpy, the Denver Broncos may not have their usual big-play threats Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Running back Jamaal Charles is averaging 5.1 yards per rush, but his 38 carries and three receptions through five games comes out to only 8.2 touches a game. Given he may be the Broncos’ only breakaway threat against the Chargers, is it time to free Charles from his season-long protective bubble?
“That’s always the plan with Jamaal as we go forward in the season,’’ said Broncos head coach Vance Joseph. “He’ll get more and more touches. So, yes.”
11 Broncos miss practice
It’s safe to assume the Broncos’ best Wednesday practice of the season remains a week ago. This Wednesday, a season-most 11 Broncos players missed practice: Sanders (ankle), Thomas (calf), Charles (vet day), Aqib Talib (vet day), Brandon Marshall (shoulder), Domata Peko Sr. (vet day), Menelik Watson (calf), Paxton Lynch (shoulder), A.J. Derby (excused for personal reasons, wife expecting their first child), Cody Latimer (knee) and Isaiah McKenzie (ankle).
Joseph said Thomas would play Sunday but was uncertain if Marshall would go.
If Marshall can’t play, Corey Nelson would start alongside Todd Davis at inside linebacker.
Although Watson hasn’t yet been ruled out for the game Sunday, it would be a surprise if he played given the strained calf he suffered against the New York Giants last week.
Should Watson not play, the Broncos would likely call on Donald Stephenson to start at right tackle. Allen Barbre would be both the swing tackle and backup left guard.
“I’d be really comfortable with Stephenson,’’ Joseph said. “That’s why he’s here. He’s our swing tackle. He’s the next guy in. He’s an experienced guy, so if he has to play, he has to play.”