CENTENNIAL Colo. -- Denver Broncos tight end Virgil Green couldn't hide his frustration last week with a left calf injury. It pained him to miss the Bengals game, and he promised to do everything to play at Tampa Bay.
Tackle Donald Stephenson shook his head about his absence in Cincinnati. He is in a rhythm, able to play one position rather than shift around as he did in Kansas City last season. He wants to play Sunday, but admitted he's not sure if the training staff will clear him this week because his injury is slightly different than Green.
Both are the racing the clock because they didn't practice during open viewing period Wednesday. Green made enough progress last week for coach Gary Kubiak to briefly consider Green a game-time decision. That changed last Friday, but Kubiak explained Monday that Green is a little closer to returning than Stephenson.
John Phillips started in Green's place and performed well. Known as a blocker, Phillips caught a touchdown pass.
Jeff Heuerman made his debut, playing 19 plays, and caught a key 29-yard pass in the second half.
While the Broncos covered for Green, they missed Stephenson. Ty Sambrailo started at right tackle and graded out as one of the league's worst performers according to Pro Football Focus, allowing a sack, a quarterback hit and a hurry. He also drew a penalty and failed to gain traction in the running game.
Three factors contributed to the showing. Sambrailo missed the preseason with a hyperextended right elbow; he faced a stout Bengals line, and he had never played an NFL snap at the position. He did appear on all 67 plays Sunday, showing endurance in the heat.
Michael Schofield continued to play well at right guard, but his versatility creates the possibility the Broncos could try him at right tackle, if needed. Darrion Weems played 14 snaps at right guard, with Schofield at left tackle when Russell Okung left temporarily with back pain.
He said it
The league is starting to take notice of Trevor Siemian. Tampa Bay's outstanding defensive tackle praised the quarterback during Wednesday's conference call -- "He looks like a seasoned vet. He makes really good decisions. He made some mistakes because of his lack of experience, but it's not like 'oh that was a dumb decision.'"
Siemian was named the AFC's Offensive Player of the Week.
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