CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- On the back field tucked away in the corner, Emmanuel Sanders went through paces with a Broncos trainer on a chilly 45-degree Thursday afternoon.
He has yet to practice since suffering an ugly ankle injury against the New York Giants, but is making progress toward playing on Monday night. Sanders has carved out a reputation for his durability.
When he sat out last Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, it marked only the second game he has missed since joining the Broncos in 2014. Sanders was hurt when Giants safety Landon Collins dived at his feet in a desperate attempt to make an interception. Collins apologized for the hit after the game, reaching out to Broncos players to let Sanders know he meant no harm.
Sanders went through light flexibility drills, a positive sign for an offense desperate for a ray of hope or help. The Broncos were shut out for the first time since 1992 last week, an outing multiple players called embarrassing, including veteran running back Jamaal Charles and quarterback Trevor Siemian.
Sanders gives the Broncos a reliable weapon even in a season when his numbers are down. He owns 25 catches for 266 yards and two touchdowns. However, he averages seven targets a game, and provides a safety net for Siemian, who should be looking to use more slants and quick passes this week to avoid sacks and rebuild confidence.
"Emmanuel is trying. He's sore, but he's trying," coach Vance Joseph said on Wednesday. "He's a tough dude. If he can go, he will."
Even without Sanders, look for the Broncos to make adjustments. They must establish the ground attack, play ugly, and possibly play big with multiple tight ends. The Chiefs allow 124.6 yards per game rushing, 25th in the NFL. They have proved vulnerable on third down, allowing a 40 percent conversion rate. Denver has played behind the sticks the last few weeks, and has averaged only 75 yards rushing in losses, compared to 154 in wins.
The formula, as such, crystallizes. Take care of the ball -- Denver is minus-8 in turnover margin in losses -- run the ball and convert a few chunk plays when available.
Defensive end Derek Wolfe was not practicing Thursday during the open viewing period. He has been dealing with a foot issue, but is expected to play. ... Jake Butt worked on the side with the trainers. He continues to move forward, though it's unlikely he makes his debut this week. ... Paxton Lynch threw well during the media open session. He has made progress from his shoulder injury. It was initially considered a month-or-so issue, but he was sidelined for two months.