ENGLEWOOD – It appears inside linebacker Brandon Marshall will need more time to heal up from his knee injury.
But the Broncos should get several other key players back from injury this week for their game Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers at the smallish, 25,362-seat Stubhub Center.
Broncos head coach Vance Joseph indicated during his press conference Monday that starting safety Darian Stewart (knee), cornerback Bradley Roby (ankle) and running back Royce Freeman (ankle) should return this week, along with backup receiver DaeSean Hamilton (knee).
Marshall had played several games with knee discomfort before sitting out the Broncos’ previous game against Houston. Josey Jewell, a fourth-round rookie, took Marshall’s place in the starting lineup.
Bye to excuses
In their previous three seasons, the Broncos were playing well going into their bye week but struggled coming out.
This year, the Broncos were not playing winning football going into their bye week, so perhaps they can play better in these final seven games.
“I just know all good teams – just from going on my third year in the league now – good teams know how to deal with good or bad,’’ said safety Justin Simmons. “Sometimes the bye comes at a good time, sometimes it comes at a bad time— it’s up to us to make sure it comes at a good time.’’
The team’s mindset coming off their bye week?
“All positive. Seven games left, our mindset is one game at a time and then after the seven games, see where we’re at,’’ Simmons said. “We’ve got three more division games to pick it back up. We’ve got games against Pittsburgh and Cleveland at home and then a game at Cincinnati, so we’ve got a lot of big-time games.
“But we can’t be thinking big picture. We’ve got to think one game at a time and this week is probably one of the biggest ones, Chargers in L.A.’’
Joseph’s message to his team during their meeting Monday: Small focus. One game at a time. Simmons listened.
The Chargers’ six-game winning streak hasn’t been all about quarterback Phillip Rivers. Their defense has surrendered less than 20 points in five consecutive games. No other NFL team has matched such a stingy streak this season. …
And this from a Chargers’ defense that has been without star defensive end Joey Bosa, who has so far missed the entire season with a foot injury. Bosa reportedly is close to returning, although at this point it would be a surprise if he plays Sunday against the Broncos. …
The Broncos rank 25th in third down percentage with a 35.3 rate. The Chargers are 27th at 34.0 percent. …
Denver is 22nd in red zone efficiency, scoring touchdowns 53.9 percent of the time. The Chargers are 20th at 55.2 percent. …
Joseph was asked if his team needs to play desperate football: “Absolutely, our team is desperate. When you watch us play, we do play a desperate brand of football. I told the guys, hope can’t be your strategy. You can’t hope to win, you can’t luck-in to win an NFL game. It’s too hard. We have to play better football. We have to score more points early and play dominant defense. That’s our brand of football. Hope can’t be your strategy. You’ve got to play better.” …
Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe on playing against Rivers: “He’s always complaining, but he’s a leader. He’s out there just trying to get the calls his way—trying to get pass interference calls, trying to get roughing the passer calls. He’s always trying to get you offsides. He’s a great competitor so you’ve got to be on top of your game when you play him.”