Buckhalter content with role

Correll Buckhalter doesn't mind that he isn't getting as many carries as rookie Knowshon Moreno, who is backing him up. And Buckhalter realizes his time as the Denver Broncos' starting tailback is probably running out.

Moreno was drafted with the 12th overall pick, and might be the starter already if he didn't hold out and then miss most of preseason and training camp with a knee injury. He will likely be the starter at some point soon, but Buckhalter won't complain.

"The guy was the 12th pick of the draft -- obviously he's not going to sit on the bench," Buckhalter said. "It's a business. I understand this game."

Buckhalter wasn't bitter, perhaps in part because he knows his role won't evaporate when and if Moreno becomes the starter. Moreno got 17 carries against Cleveland -- and looked pretty good with them, gaining 75 yards -- and Buckhalter had nine. Buckhalter has played well, including a 45-yard touchdown against the Browns, so there's no reason to bury him on the bench.

Also, Broncos coach Josh McDaniels and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy are comfortable with tailback committees and have said often that many backs will play. So any talk of when Moreno will become the starter is not too important to the coaching staff.

"I'm not going to say there's a certain date we're going to put (Moreno) as a starter," McCoy said. "Buck's done a great job for us too, so has LaMont (Jordan) and Peyton (Hillis). They've all done a good job and they all have their roles."

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--WR Brandon Stokley returned to practice Thursday, but was limited because of a thigh injury. There is a good chance he will be ready to play by Sunday.

--WR Brandon Marshall left practice early Wednesday because of an illness, but was a full participant Thursday. He'll be able to play on Sunday.

--G Ben Hamilton was held out of practice Thursday because of a hamstring injury. He practiced in full on Wednesday. He could still play on Sunday but probably needs to make some strides before the game.

--DE Le Kevin Smith has practiced a couple of times this week as he returns from a knee injury. Even if Smith can't go this week, he should be able to return soon and could find himself right back in the defensive line rotation.

--G Chris Kuper returned to the starting lineup last week and did not have a setback with his high ankle sprain. He has been practicing in full this week and will keep starting at right guard.



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