ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Although Phillip Lindsay won’t play Sunday against Tampa Bay, signs point toward the Broncos’ running back returning to play Thursday night against the New York Jets.
The first sign was the Broncos didn’t promote practice squad running back LeVante Bellamy to their 53-man roster Friday. Bellamy is expected to be a game-day practice squad call-up for a second consecutive game Sunday when the Broncos host the Tampa Bay Bucs. As a practice squad player, a third call-up would require the Broncos to lift Bellamy to their 53-man roster.
Apparently that won’t be necessary. Lindsay returned to practice Friday for the first time since suffering his turf toe injury in the first half of the Broncos’ season-opening loss to Tennessee. A back-to-back, 1,000-yard rusher the previous two seasons, Lindsay missed the game last week at Pittsburgh – Bellamy was called up as an emergency No. 3 running back – and the former Colorado Buffalo star is officially listed as “doubtful” for the game Sunday against the Bucs.
In some instances, a running back with a turf toe injury who can’t play Sunday on grass wouldn’t be deemed ready to play four days later on a maligned artificial turf surface – as is the case at the Jets’ home of MetLife Stadium. But it’s different with Lindsay, who moved well in practice Friday.
Broncos head coach Vic Fangio was asked if Lindsay is trending in the right direction to play against the Jets.
“I think so,’’ Fangio said. “He did work today. I thought he looked pretty good in what limited stuff he did. I think he's trending in the right direction for sure.”
“T” not for Teams
Broncos special teams coordinator Tom McMahon offered a harsh assessment of his special teams unit’s play last week at Pittsburgh.
“Terrible,’’ McMahon said. “One word. Couldn’t tackle, poor tackling. We didn’t catch that snap, no excuses. (Steelers’ coordinator) Danny’s (Smith) team outplayed us and Pittsburgh outplayed us.
“Their returners (Diontae Johnson, Ray-Ray McCloud) made us miss. You have to give credit to the guys who make plays. They made plays and we didn’t. We tackled poorly and our coverage was not good, in terms of lanes. We had a lot of things we cleaned up this week, but we played terrible, with a capital ‘T’.”
As expected, the Broncos promoted defensive lineman DeShawn Williams from their practice squad to their 53-man roster Friday. Quarterback Brett Rypien and safety P.J. Locke received identical promotions this week.
The Broncos can still make two, game-day call-ups from their practice squad. Bellamy is expected to be one. The Broncos may not need a practice squad outside linebacker after veteran Anthony Chickillo was signed off the Saints’ practice squad last week. Derrek Tuszka, a 7th-round rookie linebacker from North Dakota State, has burned his two allotted game-day call-ups from the practice squad. Next time would mean a spot on the 53-man roster.