CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – First things first: Will Demaryius Thomas, who tweaked his ankle in practice on Thursday, play Sunday when the Denver Broncos host the Buffalo Bills?
“Absolutely. He’s OK,” Broncos safety Moore said on Thursday Night Football Blitz.
Defensive tackle Marvin Austin, suffice to say, is familiar with his share of major injuries. Some that nearly ended his career.
“I know a lot about treatment,” Austin deadpanned.
If Thomas plays, that should hearten the offense against another top-10 NFL defense. Tight end Julius Thomas was limited in practice again on Thursday. He hasn’t played since injuring his ankle against St. Louis on Nov. 16.
Given the injuries, it’s helped that the Broncos’ running game has emerged as a worry for opponents. Credit C.J. Anderson for part of it.
“This dude has unbelievable balance and footwork,” Moore said. “Out of this world, man. If you look at C.J., you could say, ‘He can’t move like that.’ When you watch him on tape and practice, he makes plays. He’s been our backbone these past couple weeks. Running the football can definitely wear out a defense and actually help out.”
But if Anderson is the Broncos’ backbone, his backbone is the offensive line. Since they were maligned heavily in the football media since the team’s 22-7 loss in St. Louis in which they only gained 28 yards on 10 carries, the reshuffled line has shined — piling up 201 and 214 yards against Miami and Kansas City.
“You can see those guys have taken it to heart as far as running the ball,” Austin said. “People were saying they can’t run the ball. The last two weeks, they’ve been moving guys up front. I watch the offensive line. I like to see what they’re doing to defensive tackles.”
And safety T.J. Ward, who joined Austin and Moore on the Blitz, said that’s a defense’s best friend.
“We get to watch the offense work and (we) rest on the sidelines for those long three-, four-minute drives. We’re fresh when we step on the field. That’s where you see that energy. That’s where you see guys flying around, blitzes coming. It’s just that energy when you (get) rest,” he said.
That keyed significant pressure the defense put on Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith on Sunday. They tied a season high by sacking him six times. The Broncos also forced three turnovers, also tying a season high.
The Broncos’ control of the clock and field has allowed a fresh Ward to play a versatile role. He’s spent so much time near the line of scrimmage on blitzes, he’s taken on a hybrid role. Is he a bit of a linebacker now?
“I just call my guy a baller,” Austin joked. “Wherever they need him. He definitely brings a tenacity to the defense. He has a pretty fun job.”
Ward said he’s enjoying that dual role.
“I love it,” he said. “It makes me feel like a big guy down there, mixing it up. It’s just another part of my game that I try to work at and get better.”
Moore said his fellow safety has energized the defense.
“He’s everywhere,” he said. “That’s the type of player he is. He does a great job.”
That will have to continue against the Bills on Sunday, when they’ll face former Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton. Moore, who played briefly with Orton, addressed whether the quarterback got a raw deal when he was essentially run out of town.
“He was in a crazy situation,” Moore said. “I think Kyle Orton has a lot of potential. When you watch him on film, he can make all the throws. But Tim Tebow, the fans wanted him. It was set up for him to go out and play. But Kyle Orton is a solid veteran who knows the game and who makes plays.”
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Watch more video with Demaryius Thomas and Rahim Moore in the Thursday Night Football Blitz section.