ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — After a few days away from football following Sunday's emotional regular-season finale, the Broncos returned to practice, beginning their three days of work on the field heading into the weekend that will decide which team will come to Denver to face them in the divisional round.
Earning a bye with the 27-20 victory over San Diego has given the Broncos the luxury of being able to bring back injured players at a pace not dictated by the immediacy of a first-weekend game. Three Broncos—cornerback Chris Harris Jr., safety Darian Stewart and outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware—emerged from the game needing MRIs on Monday, and more were bothered by bumps and bruises to a lesser degree.
"We have a lot of guys nicked up coming out of the football game. Some of them are obvious that have been there before last week, and some of them have a few things going on," Kubiak said, before going into why quarterback Brock Osweiler in particular missed practice. "He was just not part of practice today. He probably will not be a part of practice—maybe Saturday. We’ll see. I’m just trying to get everybody that I can as fresh as possible as we head into next week"
Thursday began with new of Kubiak making the decision to name Peyton Manning as the starting quarterback as the Broncos begin their postseason march. Kubiak addressed the team, made the decision clear and the team was set.
"The one thing that we’ve done with our team throughout the course of all of this particular situation is that we’ve walked in there and said, 'Here's where we are and here's where we’re going. Let's go to work,'" Kubiak said. "To me, we were back to work today.
"I gave them the front end of the week off. I wanted them around football this weekend. There’s football going on. To me, we started our process getting ready for next week today and I want them to know exactly which way we’re heading."
That feeling of a concrete direction is something that has helped the locker room be as strong as it's been, and as the team gets back to business, they're focused on being ready for whichever team will make a trip to Denver.
"We’ve seen a couple of the opponents—really all of the opponents that we have chance to play, we’ve already seen them," cornerback Aqib Talib said. "We have an idea on what they like to do. We’re just fans. We’re just as anxious as everybody else to know who we’re going to play."