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Broncos prepare to spend Christmas in Los Angeles

The Broncos hope to get a gift of Courtland for their game against the Rams.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As wonderful as Christmas morning can be for the little kiddies, Christmas afternoon can often be a letdown for everyone.

Gifts are opened. You get what you get. Wait until next year.

For Broncos Country this year, Christmas afternoon should be a little more exciting. The Broncos play against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium with kickoff at 2:30 p.m. MST Sunday.

Playing on the road on Christmas Day can be tough on the family guys involved with the game – Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett and his wife Megan have four children – but great for those watching at home.

"Somebody's got to do it, and it'll be us,'' Hackett said with a smile in a rare Victory Monday news conference. "I'm very excited and honored for this team to be able to play on this day. I think it will be a great opportunity for them to get on TV again and to go against a great team in the Los Angeles Rams."

Hold on. The Rams are the defending Super Bowl champions, but they have tumbled to a 4-9 record entering their Monday Night game against the Packers. They're not the same after losing rent-a-stars Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. after last season, and quarterback Matthew Stafford and sensational receiver Cooper Kupp to injuries this season.

OK. Back to playing on Christmas.

"My kids aren't happy about it because it's on Christmas,'' Hackett said. "But we'll make sure we get the morning the day before (Christmas Eve Saturday) so the guys can some spend time with their families."

Receiver wars

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton (14) runs a route against Tennessee Titans cornerback Terrance Mitchell (39) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

With three games remaining, Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy are engaged in a close competition for Broncos' top receiver. Both have missed two games – Sutton with a hamstring and Jeudy with an ankle injury. Tight end Dulcich is a distant third in receiving.

There's a good chance Sutton returns this week to play against the Rams.

"We are definitely hoping for Courtland,'' Hackett said. "It's a hamstring, so we want to be smart with it. We've been dealing with these quite a bit this year, so we don't anything to be re-aggravated. But he's been working really hard, our training staff's done a great job to make him potentially available for this week."

WR ...... G .. C .... Y . TD

Sutton . 12 . 52 . 688 .. 1

Jeudy .. 12 . 49 . 663 .. 6

Dulcich .. 9 . 29 . 372 .. 1

DiLauro replaces Dakota

The Broncos placed linebacker Dakota Allen on injured reserve with a hamstring injury suffered during the only game he played for the team against Carolina. To fill his spot on their 53-man roster, the Broncos promoted offensive tackle Christian DiLauro from the practice squad.

DiLauro, who played two games for Tennessee last year before he was employed on three practice-squad teams this year, may be needed as a top backup as the Broncos are awaiting final evaluation on the MRI exams taken Monday for offensive lineman Tom Compton (back/hip) and cornerback Darius Phillips (hamstring).

Entering his 10th NFL season, Compton signed a one-year deal with the Broncos that will pay him $2.025 million if he doesn't finish the season. He missed most of this season because of a herniated disc suffered in OTAs before playing in his first game Sunday in relief of right guard Quinn Meinerz, who suffered an eye injury on the fifth play of the game.

Compton lasted 30 snaps before an engagement with Arizona's J.J. Watt left him with an injured hip.

Phillips aggravated a hamstring injury that has plagued him most of the season. Bronco players who have missed games this season because of hamstrings: Russell Wilson, Quinn Meinerz, Greg Dulcich, KJ Hamler, Courtland Sutton, Andrew Beck, Kendall Hinton, Tyrie Cleveland, Jonathon Cooper, Phillips and Allen.

One more IR activation

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) fakes a handoff to running back Chase Edmonds (19) during their game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

A new rule this year is that while teams can activate players off IR after only a four-week stay, the catch is that only eight players can be activated in one season.

The Broncos have already activated seven players from IR this year: Dulcich, Michael Ojemudia, Justin Simmons, Jacob Bobenmoyer, Mike Boone, Randy Gregory and Billy Turner.

That means they can only activate one more. Running back Chase Edmonds, who is eligible to be activated this week, was working on the side last week so he's close. If Edmonds is the eighth and final player activated from IR, starting center Lloyd Cushenberry III (groin) and receiver KJ Hamler (hamstring) would be finished for the season.

Cushenberry started 40 consecutive games over 2 1/2 seasons after he was the Broncos' third-round pick in the 2020 draft before he went down in the Jacksonville game in London.

Hamler has been injury plagued since he was the Broncos' second-round pick in 2020. He missed three games as a rookie, 14 games last year after suffering a torn ACL and hip injury, and has missed seven games this year with a hamstring injury.

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