PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Wide receiver Eddie Royal was already poised to have a big year, as Denver's version of Wes Welker in the offense, and that was before Brandon Marshall became a constant distraction and was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team. Even though Marshall will come back before the first regular-season game, he has barely practiced, so Royal will be the team's top threat at receiver to start the season. He needs to show he can produce big numbers without Marshall taking attention away from him, but Royal had a good training camp. He should catch a lot of passes, with the team getting him the ball in different ways to utilize his quickness with the ball in his hands. Royal also has good straight-ahead speed and can stretch the field vertically when the team wants to use him in that way. The Broncos hope an apparent shoulder injury suffered by Royal Sunday night against Chicago isn't serious.
-- QB Kyle Orton (finger) left Sunday's game, but it's not believed to be broken. He was due to undergo further tests, and ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on Monday that Orton is expected to be ready in time for the regular-season opener.
--WR Jabar Gaffney is expected to miss several weeks with a fractured thumb suffered in practice Aug. 28.
--QB Chris Simms has an ankle injury that will likely keep him out the rest of the preseason. That leaves Denver very thin at quarterback. The backup while Simms is out is rookie sixth-round pick Tom Brandstater.
--RB LaMont Jordan missed a week of practice with an undisclosed injury. Jordan hasn't played that well in the preseason, as the Broncos try to determine roles for their tailbacks for the regular season.
--RB Knowshon Moreno missed his second consecutive preseason game with a knee injury. The Broncos are confident he can quickly get back up to speed when he comes back. He should be able to contribute in the regular-season opener if he doesn't miss any additional time.
--OL Russ Hochstein was acquired for his versatility. He can play any position across the line. He will help the Broncos' offensive line depth. The second team was very young.
--LB Elvis Dumervil has continued to hold off rookie Robert Ayers for a starting spot. Ayers has come in for nickel and dime situations but the first-round pick does not have a spot in the first-team base defense yet.
--K Matt Prater is staying fresh, and the coaching staff is helping by limiting his reps. When Prater was dinged up recently the team was very careful with him. Prater said last year's second-half struggles were due to fatigue from kicking too much in practice early in the season and during training camp.
--RB Peyton Hillis could end up as the team's kickoff returner. He doesn't have great straight line speed, but runs downhill and with a purpose. The team will look for ways to get the versatile Hillis involved on game days.
--DE Le Kevin Smith was poised to rise up the depth chart, but an undisclosed injury knocked him out of practice for a few days. He should still have a spot in the defensive line rotation when he returns.
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