CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The Broncos went from running to daylight to running on a treadmill. In looking at Denver's disappointing losses, where execution and communication were poor, the ground game stands near the top of the list.
The Broncos averaged 141 yards in their first two games. They have fallen from fourth in the league to 19th over the past four weeks, checking in at 98.5 yards per game. And even last week's 84 yards proved deceptive as 32 came on two carries from Devontae Booker, who will receive more opportunities this week.
"We have to communicate better. We took a long hard look at it on Monday," running back C.J. Anderson said. "We know we can improve. And the playmakers have to make plays. I have to get through tackles."
With the struggle real, Monday's optics created trepidation. Center Matt Paradis received his second straight rest day, and left tackle Russell Okung did not participate as he attempts to clear the final hurdles in the concussion protocol. Paradis told Denver7 he is fine. He has played every snap the past two seasons, and could benefit from additional recovery time.
Okung's absence would hurt. He played his worst game as Bronco in last Thursday's loss, costing the team points twice for multiple penalties. Okung, however, had been steady, and functions as the veteran leader of the line. He attended Monday's practice and was in the locker room Tuesday, positive signs that he continues to make progress.
In his absence, the Broncos options include shifting Michael Schofield from right guard or trying Ty Sambrailo at left tackle. Though inactive last week, Sambrailo, who slumped at right tackle in his starts, is considered a swing player at this point because of his inability to play inside and out.
The Broncos claimed Billy Turner off waivers on Monday to push for playing time at guard. Max Garcia continues to battle inconsistency at left guard.
No Ware out there
Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware is exactly one month removed from breaking his right forearm against the Colts. He told Denver7 Tuesday he had a checkup and it "went good." However, he admitted he's unlikely to be ready to play Monday against the Texans.
This was always a possibility. The forearm requires full healing -- meaning no signs of a fracture -- before he will be cleared to return. Ware has not practiced the past two days. He outlined this week's scenario last week to Denver7.
"I can't rush it," Ware said. "I want to be out there (which will feature him wearing a carbon fiber protective brace). But I also know it has to be right. Even if I miss this game, I would still have nine left so I have to be smart."
The Broncos believe they will rebound. Linebacker Brandon Marshall said watching film of the Texans makes him think "we are going to have a great week."
The Broncos have been plagued by slow starts, outscored 41-13 in the first quarter. The Broncos have allowed 31 points on first possessions.
Both upcoming Monday Night Football teams have not started offensively as they have hoped. The Broncos rank 27th (5.08 yards per play) and the Texans counter at 4.9 for a 28th ranking.
Receiver Cody Latimer did not suffer a concussion on the play in which he lost his helmet on return coverage. It was a previous play. He is making steady progress in the protocol.