By Rich Kurtzman
The playoffs have arrived, and good fortune has found the Broncos.
Denver, winner of 11 straight games, pushed themselves into a first round bye, but losses at the end of the season by Houston and New England helped get the Broncos the AFC’s No. 1 seed. Now the orange and blue get to host at least one game and have this week to both prepare and rest.
The Broncos don’t know their opponents yet – they’ll face the lowest seed remaining of this weekend’s Wildcard games – but that isn’t stopping them from getting healthy.
Starting right guard and captain Chris Kuper has been working to get back to the football field since the preseason, when he fractured his right forearm. He healed from that injury, only to hurt his ankle against the Bengals and then suffer from migraines as well. But Kuper was upgraded last week to questionable, and even played on extra points and the field goal. It means he could be able to play in the Divisional round, which would help protect Peyton Manning from pass-rushing defenders.
Also on the offensive line, right tackle Orlando Franklin seemed to hurt his shoulder when he fell after the Ronnie Hillman fumble last week, and left tackle Ryan Clady has an unspecified injury. Franklin was able to go back into the game last Sunday and Clady is also expected to play on the 12th.
Trindon Holliday, the kick returner that went a perfect 16-0 this season after starting with the Texans and finishing with the Broncos, should be able to go as well following the bye. Holliday couldn’t play against the Chiefs because of a hurt ankle, but the rest will do him well to get back out there and fly down the sidelines again.
Cornerback Tracy Porter is still trying to get healthy, but a concussion two weeks ago may have him on the sidelines for the rest of the postseason after seizure-like symptoms plagued him earlier in the season.
Running back Knowshon Moreno, who stepped in valiantly for an injured Willis McGahee, has bruised ribs that have been hampering his breathing as of late. And speaking of McGahee, he’s getting closer to returning to the team, and could possibly play in the Super Bowl if Denver can get that far.
Safeties Mike Adams (knee) and Jim Leonhard (thigh) are a bit banged up, as are receivers Brandon Stokley (quadrecep) and Matt Willis (knee), and some downtime will give them a bit of speed back.
Also listed last week on the Denver injury report were fullback Chris Gronkowski (hamstring) and special teams player Danny Trevathan (groin).
When it’s all said and done, the Broncos will have 12 days off between their last regular season game and their first playoff contest, which will benefit the team in having the healthiest group of players possible. Of course, there’s a thin line between not enough and too much rest, and there’s no doubt Denver will be active on the practice fields looking to stay mentally sharp as well.
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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.