By Rich Kurtzman
With the preparation in Dove Valley focusing on the New Orleans Saints, the Denver Broncos saw a welcomed face when Tracy Porter practiced in full pads.
Porter, a fourth-year starting cornerback that Denver signed in the offseason, was held out of last Monday’s game with an illness. This Monday, he was back on the practice field, but only participated in non-contact drills and he appears to be on the road to recovery after joining his teammates in full pads Wednesday.
Porter was a key member of the Saints – his only professional team before signing with the Broncos – and he even picked off current Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning in Super Bowl XLIV in the game’s deciding play. If he’s able to play this Sunday night against his former team, Porter will be an important piece of Denver’s defensive puzzle as they try to slow down the No. 1 passing attack and No. 3 scoring offense in the NFL. The corner becomes the fourth Broncos player to face his former team this week, with Joel Dreessen (Texans), Dan Koppen (Patriots) and Keith Brooking (Falcons) playing and losing to their former teams this season.
Peyton Manning has connections to New Orleans as well, being born and raised there and being a fan of the team while his father Archie Manning quarterbacked the Saints. He told the media following practice, “Certainly I have great friends in New Orleans. Family is still there, brother is still there. But you know, I’ve been with two different NFL teams now and I’m a pretty loyal fan to the team I play for.”
The veteran quarterback also said that this week’s game will be difficult because the Saints are hot, winning their last two straight games, and because they’re a team that knows what it takes to win big games in the NFL. The Broncos understand the importance of winning this week, building momentum on their crazy comeback two weeks ago while keeping their lead over the Chargers in the AFC West.
Broncos head coach John Fox told the media Wednesday of New Orleans, “Their winning streak is longer than ours right now, because they’ve won two in a row. They’re very capable. We don’t look at stats. We don’t look at records. We watch the tape. … They’re a very worthy opponent that was a playoff team a year ago.”
The good news is that Denver had all 53 men practice Wednesday with all of them full participants besides Porter, who was limited. The early week injury report looks like this; Mike Adams (knee), Chris Harris (ankle), Chris Kuper (forearm), Tracy Porter (illness), Jacob Tamme (hip), Danny Trevathan (thumb) and Matt Willis (hamstring). Following the bye week and some much-needed rest, everyone on the roster is expected to play this Sunday night. It’s very good news because three of those listed are impact players in the Broncos’ secondary that will be tested early and often this week.
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Rich Kurtzman is a Denver native, Colorado State University alumnus, sports nerd, athletics enthusiast, and competition junkie. Currently writing for a multitude of websites while working on books, one on the history of the Denver Broncos and Mile High Stadium. Find more of Rich’s Denver Broncos pieces on Examiner.com.