Michael Lombardo: What's the latest with the situation at QB? Is Kyle Orton healthy enough to play? If so, will he be compromised? If not, will Chris Simms be ready?
Michael John Schon: As of Friday Orton was holding the clipboard, but the team's optimistic for a return on Sunday, especially after the tremendous performance Chris Simms put up in the second half against Washington. I mean, what's not to love about a 7.5 passer rating for your backup quarterback?
If there's a bright side to all the madness it's the fact Orton injured his left ankle, not his planting foot, so with enough rest he may be able to give it a shot. Considering he's about as mobile as my late grandmother when he's healthy, the injury may not be as much of a factor in his game as you may think.
ML: The Broncos are also banged up on the offensive line. Who is out this week and what's the scoop on the fill-ins?
QB Chris Simms
Mixed reviews on the new lineup at this point -- things went pretty well in the first half but once Simms took over and they got locked into a lot of third-and-long situations, the run and pass protection completely fell to pieces. I'll be curious to see how the offensive line responds when it's on the line against San Diego -- then again, so will Orton… or Simms… or Tom Brandstater.
ML: Denver made it a point to attack deep last week against the Redskins. Do you see that happening again this week?
MJS: More than likely not, especially if Orton gets the call at quarterback. With a questionable front line and a lack of mobility in the backfield, things should return to the dink-and-dunk mentality to try and control the field. If Simms gets the nod, McDaniels will probably open it up a bit, but considering his lack of experience with the first unit, I doubt he's really going to air it out in a game as important as this one.
ML: The Denver defense seems like it might be coming down to earth a little bit. Is this due to the performance of the players, or have opponents started to find new ways to attack Mike Nolan's unit?
FS Brian Dawkins
ML: Who is Denver's most underrated defender and why?
MJS: He's not really getting the pub Elvis Dumervil has, but the key player in the Broncos' defense is definitely Brian Dawkins. An emotional leader on and off the field, Dawkins is still laying it out at 36 years old and doesn't appear to be letting up anytime soon. I wouldn't jack with him.
ML: In the meeting earlier this season, Denver won the game on special teams. But by and large, Josh McDaniels has not been happy with his team's special-teams play. Who do you see winning the third phase this Sunday?
MJS: All I know is the Broncos have gone 0-3 since releasing former punter Brett Kern and special-teams play in general has left a lot to be desired in each of those games. It's a wonder P Mitch Berger even has a job in the NFL, let alone starting for the Broncos. Once the dude jacked a 26-yarder against the Redskins, I knew we were in trouble.
The special-teams return game has been a bright spot, but you hand a short field to Philip Rivers and LaDainian Tomlinson and you've get a more than likely chance you're gonna get your lunch handed to you.