By Mark Schiff
The Broncos are all healed up and ready to go ahead of their playoff opener against Pittsburgh.
Every player on the 53-man roster participated in the team’s practice on Friday, Denver’s final session before taking on the Steelers in the divisional round on Sunday. Running back Juwan Thompson had to watch drills from the sideline, but otherwise Denver had its full compliment of players out on the field practicing.
That speaks to just how important the bye week was for the team to rest and get healthy. Last Friday, Denver defensive coordinator Wade Phillips remarked that the team “would have had a hard time playing” in a wild-card round game with all of the injuries to their defensive stars. Now, it looks like the Broncos No.1 ranked defense should have all of its players ready to go on Sunday.
That includes outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware (knee), who was hobbled in the team’s Week 17 win over San Diego. Ware was limited in the team’s first two practice sessions but participated in full on Friday and should be able to play on Sunday. Ditto for safety Darian Stewart (hamstring) and cornerback Chris Harris (shoulder).
The only player officially listed as questionable on the injury report is backup quarterback Brock Osweiler (knee). But after working with strength-and-conditioning coach Luke Richesson the past two days, Osweiler was a limited participant in Friday’s practice and is expected to be able to suit up behind Peyton Manning.
The injury issues are all on Pittsburgh’s side of the ball. After taking a vicious hit in Saturday’s punishingly physical win over Cincinnati, All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown has officially been ruled out of Sunday’s contest due to a concussion. Thanks to his lingering foot injury, starting running back Deangelo Williams has also been ruled out against the Broncos. And quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is officially questionable to play, though the Broncos fully expect to face the iron man QB in Sunday’s contest.
But even if Big Ben plays, Pittsburgh will be greatly depleted as they take on the Broncos in Denver for a chance to play in the AFC Championship game. Expect the Steelers to empty their bag of play-calling tricks on Sunday as they look for strategic advantages to help mitigate their injury problems.
Check out the Broncos full divisional round injury report below and tune into CBS4 Denver on Sunday at 2:40 p.m. for the game.
Owen Daniels, TE (Knees)
Todd Davis, ILB (Shoulder)
Max Garcia, C/G (Groin)
Chris Harris Jr., CB (Shoulder)
Malik Jackson, DE (Illness)
Peyton Manning, QB (Foot)
Brandon Marshall, ILB (Ankle)
Von Miller, OLB (Illness)
Robert Myers Jr., G (Illness)
Darian Stewart, S (Hamstring)
Juwan Thompson, RB (Illness)
T.J. Ward, S (Ankle)
DeMarcus Ware, OLB (Knee)
Brock Osweiler, QB (Knee)
Mark Schiff is a freelance writer and music journalist for AXS.com. In 2013, his coverage of the Seattle Seahawks ended in heartbreak when they defeated the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. Now covering his beloved hometown team, his knowledge and passion for pro football has resulted in multiple fantasy football championships. Find him on Twitter at @mihilites.