Denver will likely go into its next game without its top four tailbacks. Michael Pittman and Andre Hall suffered season-ending injuries in Denver's Nov. 2 game against Miami.
Against Cleveland on Thursday, running back Ryan Torain suffered another stroke of bad luck with a knee injury that will likely keep him out the rest of the season.
"I don't know the extent exactly but Steve (Antonopulos, the Broncos' trainer) said it didn't look good," coach Mike Shanahan said right after the game.
Running back Selvin Young should come back at some point this season, but it's uncertain when. He missed a month with a groin injury and although he suited up against Cleveland, he wasn't healthy. After Torain was hurt, Young was hobbling badly and came out of the game. He missed the entire second half.
Fullback Peyton Hillis was thrown in at tailback. He rushed for 24 yards on eight carries, including a huge pickup on fourth-and-1 on what turned out to be Denver's game-winning drive. The only other tailback on the active roster is P.J. Pope, who was signed off the practice squad in the days before the Cleveland game and was inactive.
The Broncos could choose to go with Hillis and Pope until Young gets healthy, and perhaps pick up a free agent to help with depth. Hillis was recruited out of high school as a tailback but ended up playing fullback at Arkansas, which had two future first-round picks at tailback in Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.
-- Quarterback Jay Cutler looked like he was pressing during Denver's 1-4 slide, throwing interceptions into coverage. Against Cleveland he bounced back strong, with 447 yards and three fourth-quarter touchdown passes in a comeback win.
"It's just up to me to make plays, make the right decisions," Cutler said.
-- Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall had a tribute planned if he scored a touchdown against Cleveland, he just scored at an inopportune time. Marshall scored an 11-yard touchdown late in Thursday's game to give Denver the lead, and reached in his pants to pull out a glove.
The glove was half white and half black and was intended to be a symbol of unity in the United States a couple days after Barack Obama was elected President. Marshall was stopped by receiver Brandon Stokley, who feared the celebration would draw a penalty late in a four-point game, but Marshall addressed it after the game.
"I wanted to create that symbol of unity because Obama inspires me, our multi-cultured society," said Marshall, who read from the message he had typed out on his phone earlier in the day. "And I know at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised that black glove in that fist as a silent gesture of black power and liberation. Forty years later, I wanted to make my own statement. I wanted to make my own statement and gesture to represent the progress we made."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--LB Nate Webster has a sprained MCL and will likely miss a couple of weeks. The Broncos had already lost fellow starting linebackers Boss Bailey for the season and D.J. Williams for four weeks.
--LB Niko Koutouvides will play middle linebacker as long as Nate Webster is out with a knee injury. Koutouvides was given a $7.5 million contract but has played just special teams because he lost a training camp battle with Webster to start.
--TE Tony Scheffler returned after missing three games with a groin injury but was effective in limited snaps. He caught four passes for 92 yards. The Broncos have a few extra days off after playing on Thursday, and Scheffler should be closer to full strength for Denver's next game.
--WR Eddie Royal had 164 yards receiving including a 93-yard touchdown, the second longest for a rookie in team history. Royal has made a huge impact this season and doesn't appear to be slowing down.
--S Calvin Lowry started in place of Marlon McCree against Cleveland. McCree will miss two-to-three more weeks with a high ankle sprain.
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