By Mark Schiff
Between Peyton Manning missing nearly half the season with a foot injury and regular appearances from star defensive players like DeMarcus Ware and T.J. Ward, Denver’s injury report during the regular season was frequently packed with some of the most important names on the roster. But thanks to some much needed rest courtesy of the bye week, things have looked quite different thus far in the playoffs.
For the second week in a row, Denver had all 53 players on the active roster participate in the team’s final practice before their game. Cornerback Bradley Roby (quadricep) was the only player limited in Friday’s session. In fact, Roby was the only player not to be a full participant in all three of the team’s practices ahead of the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots.
After sustaining an injury against the Chargers in the regular season finale, cornerback Chris Harris (shoulder) looked visibly hurt during last week’s win over the Steelers. But after fully participating in this week’s practices, head coach Gary Kubiak sounded optimistic that the two-time second-team All-Pro would be back to form on Sunday.
“Everything I’ve seen this week in practice tells me Chris is fine to go,” Kubiak said on Friday. “I think with every player, you’re watching them, but he’s had a really good week, and I think he’s doing a lot better than he did going into last week’s game.”
As for Roby, who forced a momentum-changing fumble in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s win over Pittsburgh, Kubiak sounded optimistic that the second-year defensive back would be good to go.
“He had a sore hip today, so we pulled him out toward the back half [of practice],” Kubiak told reporters, noting that, “Everybody else was fine.”
Indeed, Denver doesn’t have a single player listed as questionable on this week’s injury report, the cleanest bill of health the team has had all season.
The Patriots aren’t so lucky. Though the team is known for its gamesmanship when reporting injuries, 16 of the 21 players listed on their injury report are classified as questionable. That includes several of the team’s most important players, including tight end Rob Gronkowski (knee/back), wide receivers Danny Amendola (knee) and Julian Edelman (foot) and linebacker Dont’a Hightower (knee). It would be something of a surprise if any of those players were to sit against Denver, though the Patriots did lose a key player earlier in the week when they placed linebacker Jerod Mayo on season-ending injury reserve.
But for the most part, the Broncos and Patriots are both relatively healthy as they head into the AFC Championship game. We’ll see which team can earn a spot in Super Bowl 50 when the game kicks off from Sports Authority Field at Mile High at 1:05pm on Sunday, right here on CBS4 Denver.
Check out the Broncos complete AFC Championship injury report below.
Josh Bush, S (Safety)
Owen Daniels, TE (Knees)
Todd Davis, ILB (Shoulder)
Max Garcia, C/G (Groin)
Chris Harris Jr., CB (Shoulder)
Peyton Manning, QB (Foot)
Brandon Marshall, ILB (Ankle)
Brock Osweiler, QB (Knee)
Bradley Roby, CB (Quadricep)
Darian Stewart, S (Hamstring)
T.J. Ward, S (Ankle)
DeMarcus Ware, OLB (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.