ENGLEWOOD - Barring an overnight cure of his strained hamstring, Brandon Marshall is expected to be replaced by Corey Nelson as a Denver Broncos’ starting inside linebacker for their game Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.
Nelson has been a core special teams players who has played in all 43 games, counting the postseason, since he was the Broncos’ seventh-round pick in the 2014 draft, but the game Sunday would be his first start.
“If it happens, I’m definitely excited,’’ Nelson said. “But each week is an opportunity for me. Because you never know what happens. One play away. It’s a big week, though. It’s a big game. A division game. Our coach says it counts as two games.’’
Win and the Broncos are 6-2, three games ahead of the Chargers, who would be 3-5 in the AFC West Division. Lose and the Broncos are 5-3, one game ahead of what would be 4-4 San Diego.
Thus, the two-game swing.
Anyone who saw Marshall hobbling in the locker room Monday night after he strained his left hamstring in the fourth quarter of the Broncos’ 27-9 victory against Brock Osweiler’s Houston Texans knew he was in trouble to play six days later against the Chargers.
The problem with hamstrings is once they pop, they’re easier to pop them a second time. Marshall didn’t practice this week but as he hobbles, Nelson has the speed to stay with the likes of San Diego tight end Hunter Henry. How fast is Nelson? He’s the fastest linebacker on the team.
“Inside linebacker, I probably am,’’ Nelson said. “Outside linebacker it would probably be Dekoda (Watson). He’s fast.’’
Asked if he’s faster than Von Miller, Nelson took a deep breath while considering.
“Not in the get off,’’ he said, smiling.
Besides Nelson, Marshall’s injury could also mean more playing time for Zaire Anderson.
The Broncos are a little more hopeful Matt Paradis can play, even though the center missed the entire week of practice with a hip injury.
Paradis has made every center snap for the Broncos’ offense in the 26 games since the start of the 2015 season and with San Diego lining up one of the league’s top nose tackles in Brandon Mebane, Denver is hoping Paradis’ Iron Man streak can continue.
The Broncos’ backup center is James Ferentz, who spent the week snapping to quarterback Trevor Siemian and orchestrating the offensive line in practice.
Talib, Ware updates
The Broncos listed cornerback Aqib Talib (lower back) and pass rushing outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware (fractured forearm) as questionable to play against the Chargers and Philip Rivers.
Put Talib on the probable side of questionable and Ware on the doubtful side. Sitting out the Chargers’ game would give Ware six full weeks off from when he suffered his fracture, and it would be almost seven weeks until the Broncos’ next game next Sunday night at Oakland.
It takes six weeks to heal a broken bone. Ware practiced with a protective cast around his right forearm this week.
Confirming a 9NEWS report Friday, the Broncos officially placed running back C.J. Anderson on injured reserve Saturday and promoted tailback/fullback/special teamer Juwan Thompson from their practice squad. …
This is unusual. After their game against the Chargers at soon-to-be-renamed Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday, the Broncos will play just one home game in November (and not until the 27th against the Kansas City Chiefs), one home game in December (the 18th against New England) and one in January (New Year’s Day against Oakland).