Englewood (AP) — Just when it looked as though the Denver Broncos were finally returning to health, coach John Fox went over the injury list following practice Friday.
Eddie Royal — out.
Julius Thomas — out.
Elvis Dumervil — out.
In all, there were eight players listed as either out or questionable for the game Sunday at Tennessee.
Royal (groin) and the rookie tight end Thomas (high ankle sprain) were hardly surprises. But Dumervil was a little bit of a stunner.
His dinged-up left shoulder looked to be on the mend and the Pro Bowl pass rusher appeared to be on his way to chasing around quarterbacks again.
Sure, Dumervil was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday but that looked to be more precautionary than anything.
On Friday, he went through early stretching exercises and then didn’t take any reps.
Did Dumervil have a setback?
“I wouldn’t call it a setback,” Fox said. “This is a physical game. It’s hard to play with one (healthy) arm.”
The Broncos also are taking a cautious approach with leader and top returning linebacker D.J. Williams after he dislocated his right elbow in a preseason contest.
Williams, the team’s top tackler in 2010, missed the opening two games, but has returned to practice in a limited capacity this week. He’s listed as questionable for the Titans game.
“If we deem him healthy ... obviously he’ll play,” Fox said.
Knowshon Moreno and Champ Bailey, who both have hamstring ailments, also were listed as questionable. Moreno went through a partial practice Friday, while Bailey had to observe from the sideline.
“I’m trying to be smart about this,” Bailey said.
The perennial Pro Bowler has done some light running and cutting, just to test out the hamstring. Bailey said he needs to fully push it in order to declare himself ready for Sunday.
“At this point, I’m still working toward that,” Bailey said. “We all want to be back as soon as possible.”
Almost lost in the litany of players either “out” or “questionable” was that receiver Brandon Lloyd could be back on the field Sunday.
Lloyd has been dealing with a nagging groin injury that led him to be a late scratch in a win over Cincinnati last weekend. Lloyd made quite a few leaping catches in practice Friday and is listed as probable.
Asked if he was healthy enough to play as he made his way into the training room, Lloyd simply responded, “I don’t know yet.”
The declaration of Dumervil being held out caught some of the Broncos off guard. Linebacker Joe Mays hadn’t heard the news yet as he slipped into a suit and tie for the team’s plane ride to Tennessee.
“It’s difficult,” Mays said. “We definitely want our leaders out there on the field. When one of our leaders goes down, another guy has to step up.”
Williams could be quite an addition to the defense, provided he’s healthy enough to play. An eighth-year linebacker out of Miami, Williams was counted on to patrol the weak-side linebacker spot in defensive coordinator Dennis Allen’s scheme.
It’s yet another switch for Williams, who has constantly been shuffled between linebacker spots as different coordinators have attempted to shore up Denver’s leaky defense.
“D.J.’s an outstanding football player,” Allen said. “He’s kind of one of our leaders on the team and so having a guy like that back would be real beneficial for us.”
In the absence of Williams, Wesley Woodyard has stepped in and the team has hardly missed a beat. Woodyard had a team-high 13 tackles against the Bengals.
“Wesley just shows our depth at linebacker is pretty good,” Mays said. “When D.J. returns, it will help a lot. Guys feed off the way he plays. It boosts you.”
Notes: The Broncos have won three straight over the Titans. ... Broncos P Britton Colquitt averaged a net of 51 yards on six punts against Cincinnati, the second-best performance in team history. Tom Rouen averaged 52.3 yards against San Diego on Nov. 11, 2001. ... K Matt Prater is the franchise’s leader in field goal percentage, hitting 74 of 91 of his attempts (81.3 percent) for Denver.
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