By Rich Kurtzman
The Denver Broncos couldn’t lose any more linebackers, their weakest point on defense before the season even began and the injury bug started biting.
Then, starting weakside man Danny Trevathan was lost for many weeks due to multiple broken bones in the same leg and even more recently it was middle linebacker Nate Irving who severely sprained an MCL who was placed on the season-ending Injured Reserve.
In Trevathan’s place making plays all season has been Brandon Marshall, a backup turned starter who leads the team in tackles with 94 total tackles, 74 solo as well as six passes defended and two forced fumbles. But on Sunday, Marshall sustained a concussion in the win over the Miami Dolphins and it looked as if he would be out this week when he didn’t practice on Wednesday or Thursday. Then Marshall cleared the league mandated concussion protocols and was elevated to “probable” to face the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night.
The other big area of weakness for the Broncos is at running back, where starter and backup Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman are continuing to be held out this week. Ball has an injured groin, one he tested in the loss to the St. Louis Rams but was clearly unable to play due to immense pain. Hillman, who had come in to play well for Ball, injured a foot, paving the way for C.J. Anderson to enjoy a great day against the Dolphins. He gained a career-high 167 yards on the ground with a score and caught four passes for 68 yards as well.
Tight end Julius Thomas, who was a rising star this year, missed last week with a bum ankle and is questionable to play. Thomas is a major part of the passing game, opening up the middle of the field when he’s healthy, and without him Virgil Green and Jacob Tamme will look to catch passes.
For Kansas City, the biggest news this week centered around Eric Berry, who was placed on the Injured Reserve due to an illness. There was a mass found in Berry’s chest which doctor’s believe may be lymphoma and he apparently asked right after the diagnosis, “Can I play against the Broncos?” Missing Berry will be a big problem for the Chiefs’ pass defense, and Peyton Manning will almost certainly look to take advantage this Sunday. Another notable name who is “questionable” is former Broncos defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson. Vickerson played for Denver from 2010-2013 and now is in Kansas City.
To make things even more interesting, the game kicks off at 6:30 p.m. MT on Sunday night in Arrowhead Stadium, meaning it will be nationally televised.
Safety David Bruton Jr. (finger)
Tight end Virgil Green (calf)
Linebacker Brandon Marshall (concussion)
Defensive end Quantarus Smith (ankle)
Running back Juwan Thompson (knee)
Safety Quinton Carter (ankle)
Cornerback Aqib Talib (hamstring)
Tight end Julius Thomas (ankle)
Running back Montee Ball (groin)
Running back Ronnie Hillman (foot)
Cornerback Kayvon Webster (shoulder)
Kansas City Chiefs:
Wide receiver Donnie Avery (groin)
Punter Dustin Colquitt (calf)
Tight end Anthony Fasano (knee)
Defensive back Jamell Fleming (hamstring)
Linebacker Tamba Hali (knee)
Cornerback Sean Smith (groin)
Offensive lineman Donald Stephenson (shoulder)
Cornerback Chris Owens (knee)
Defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson (calf)
Wide receiver Junior Hemingway (concussion)
For more Broncos news and updates, visit Broncos Central.
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. Rich is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.