Broncos' Marshall and top tight ends ruled out; Wolfe doesn't practice Friday, remains questionable

Posted at 11:48 AM, Dec 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-23 14:43:03-05

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Neither makes perfect sense.

What is easier: Figuring out who to root for this weekend to help the Broncos' chances of reaching the postseason? Or trying to determine how the Broncos are going to pull off a December upset in Kansas City?

Let's focus on the latter, which became more difficult with the absence of linebacker Brandon Marshall. According to multiple NFL sources, Marshall has been ruled out for the Chiefs game on Sunday with his left hamstring injury. He suffered a grade-2 strain against Jacksonville, leaving him forced to follow a deliberate path in his healing. 

He might not be the only star sidelined: defensive end Derek Wolfe (stingers) and safety T.J. Ward (concussion) were not at practice this week.

Ward was officially ruled out for Sunday's game Friday afternoon, as were both of the Broncos' top tight ends, Virgil Green and A.J. Derby, who are both still in the concussion protocol.

The expectation remains that the Broncos will activate a tight end from the practice squad in either Henry Kreiger-Coble or Steven Scheu.

Wolfe remains questionable with not only injury, but illness. Coach Gary Kubiak remains hopeful Wolfe will play.

The injuries come during a week the Broncos dealt with fallout over potential division in the locker room. Cornerback Aqib Talib shouted down offensive lineman Russell Okung after the loss to the Patriots, creating talk of tension. The players insist they have moved on, and their actions this week reflected as much. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips dismissed the idea, saying his defense competes against the opponent's defense.

He remains pleased with many aspects of his group, admitting "this is the best secondary I have ever coached." As such, don't look for the Chiefs to try to pass, other than the occasional work to Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce. Alex Smith, known as Captain Checkdown, has not run as much this season and two red zone turnovers against the Titans and Bucs led to home losses.

"We have to take the ball away," Broncos linebacker Von Miller said. "We haven't done it for two straight games. We need to get back to that."

As for playoff scenarios. Root for Miami to lose. Root for the Steelers, Jets and Colts to win. Why? You want New England to have a reason to play its starters in the season finale against the Dolphins. And Pittsburgh capturing a division crown gives Denver an edge over Baltimore in the race for the final playoff spot. 

Or keep it simple: Broncos win out and then cross fingers -- because they need help.


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Want Broncos news? Denver7 Broncos insider Troy E. Renck is your source. He talks to the players, covers the games and reports scoops on Denver7 and the Denver7 app. He is a CU grad who has covered pro sports in Colorado since 1996, including 14 years at The Denver Post. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and’s Broncos page. Troy welcomes most of your emails at