GAME PLAN: The Broncos' main priority is simple: Don't get any players hurt. Denver has wrapped up the second seed in the AFC playoffs. But the Broncos also want to stay sharp going into the playoffs.
Denver could prove something to itself and the rest of the league by
running effectively against San Diego's 3-4 defense. The 3-4, and
especially the Chargers' 3-4, has given Denver problems in the running game.
Defensively, the Broncos would like to stay focused. Getting their
young cornerbacks such as Domonique Foxworth and Curome Cox, who is the
nickel back, some more experience is important before the playoffs.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
--Broncos C Tom Nalen vs. Chargers NT Jamal Williams. Williams is a
huge man in the middle, and the Broncos usually have problems with him.
When Williams can get penetration, that disrupts Denver's signature
stretch running plays. Nalen is one of the best in the NFL, a tough, nasty
center who keys the running attack.
--Broncos S Sam Brandon vs. Chargers TE Antonio Gates. Brandon will
get plenty of turns against Gates in the Broncos' big nickel defensive
package. Brandon has had a solid season for the Broncos off the bench.
He is physical but has good coverage skills. S Nick Ferguson will
usually defend Gates when the Broncos are in their base defense.
--CB Darrent Williams did some drills in practice this week. He
could be back from his groin injury for Denver's first playoff game. He
said he hopes to increase his workload in practice next week and have a
normal week of practice leading up to the playoff opener.
--LB Al Wilson has a broken thumb and won't play this week. Wilson
will return for the playoffs, and since he had surgery, the Broncos are
hopeful his play won't be affected much.
--RB Mike Anderson said he could play this week, but he will be held
out with an ankle injury. Anderson should be back to full speed after
Denver's playoff bye.
--DE Courtney Brown has an inflamed knee and a sore shoulder, and
the Broncos will hold him out because their regular-season finale doesn't
affect their playoff seed. Brown has had a solid season and has been
playing through knee pain for a few weeks.
--WR Ashley Lelie won't have to miss any time because of a gash in
his right arm that required 14 stitches. Lelie will wear a fitted pad on
the arm and said the cut doesn't affect his ability to catch the ball.
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