CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Thursday's Broncos' practice shaped Sunday's roster.
Donald Stephenson joined Menelik Watson with a calf injury, sidelining them both against the Chargers and leaving former left guard Allen Barbre starting at right tackle. Barbre's resume includes snaps at tackle from his days in Philadelphia. The Broncos are also expected to promote offensive lineman Elijah Wilkinson from the practice squad.
The casualties ran deeper than the O-line. Linebacker Corey Nelson, who figured to receive a battery of snaps because of Brandon Marshall's sore shoulder, suffered a season-ending elbow injury. He underwent surgery and will be placed on the injured reserve. Marshall will start on Sunday, and the Broncos will activate linebacker Jerrol Garcia-Williams from the practice squad.
Luck plays a huge role in injuries. The problem with the NFL schedule is that it doesn't allow for sympathy. The Broncos not only have encountered adversity, they asked it over for dinner and a movie. This is not a team, however, that feels sorry for itself. The results on the scoreboard and the volume of the players in the training room have challenged the Broncos to respond.
"We are ready," defensive end Derek Wolfe.
The Broncos recognize the importance of this game. A win leaves them 3-0 in the AFC West and breaks a three-game road losing streak in the division. Lose, and the slippery slope becomes black ice.
"Every division game is important," running back Jamaal Charles said. "They know us, but we know them as well."
Charles admitted he's ready for a bigger workload. His knee is healthy, and he wants to help serve as a catalyst for an offense that has averaged 14 points the last three weeks while going 2-for-11 in the red zone.
"Whatever they need," Charles said. "I know the next day is not given. I am blessed to be out there when you see all the injuries around the league."
Hunter Sharp will take over on punt return for Isaiah McKenzeie and Brendan Langley is the top kick returner with Cody Latimer out with a knee injury. ... Billy Turner said he dislocated his wrist when he punched into the defensive lineman on Sunday. He tried to pop it back in, but required surgery on Monday night that included screws and a plate. ... Domata Peko is keeping an eye on the baseball playoffs. He grew up in the Los Angeles-area as a Dodgers fan. He had a Clayton Kershaw jersey hanging from his locker on Friday. ... The Broncos added receiver Tim Patrick to the practice squad, replacing River Cracraft, who hurt his hamstring at practice this week.