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Notebook: Broncos Brace for New-Look Bears Backfield

Posted Dec 7, 2011

With Jay Cutler out and Matt Forte not expected to suit up, the Broncos know they're still in for a challenge against formidable Chicago backups.


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Elvis Dumervil was a little disappointed.

When asked if he was looking forward to getting after Jay Cutler when the Bears came to town, he couldn't hide his grin.

"Jay's a good quarterback," Dumervil said of the former Bronco, who is out this week with a right thumb injury. "I was definitely looking forward to that game. Hopefully he gets better. We'll just have to worry about the next guy."

Now Dumervil -- who has recorded at least a half sack in five consecutive games -- and the rest of the Broncos pass rush will set their sights on "the next guy," Caleb Hanie.

Starting the past two games in place of Cutler, Hanie has thrown for a combined 387 yards, two touchdowns and six interceptions, fumbling once.

Last week against Kansas City, Hanie was sacked seven times. It's a feat the Broncos would like to mimic, but Dumervil knows it won't be that easy.

"He's pretty mobile," he said. "He can throw the ball, he can run, he can make plays with his feet. So we got to make sure we contain him. I think the Mike Martz offensive is very complicated. They do a lot of shifts, a lot of different things and give us different looks. So we got to be definitely sound and try to execute."

But Cutler isn't the only offensive weapon that could be missing from Chicago's lineup come Sunday.

Running back Matt Forte did not practice on Wednesday with a knee injury suffered last week, and he is not expected to play in Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

Jason Hunter said that won't affect the team's gameplan, as the Bears have another capable runner in Marion Barber if Forte can't go.

"I've seen too many times in my career where a team's starter was down and a backup stepped in and played well," he said. "For instance last week, (Vikings running back Toby) Gerhart, he stepped up and played big. He ran the ball hard. From week to week, you have to be prepared for whoever's in there because it's all the NFL. When you get to this level, everybody's good. There isn't too much that separates a starter from a backup. So you have to prepare and be ready to execute on all levels."

MILLER 'CONFIDENT ENOUGH TO PLAY'

After starting the first 11 games of the season, Von Miller missed the first game of his career last week after undergoing surgery on his thumb.

Standing at his locker Wednesday, Miller said he felt good enough to play last week, but called it a "great decision" that he didn't suit up.

"The wound was still new and the athletic staff didn't want me to sweat on it or anything like that," he explained. "It was just four days out of surgery. So they didn't want anything to happen. We're about eight days out now, so it healed up a little bit better and it's feeling a lot better."

The rookie practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, sporting a hard cast on his thumb. He said he might try a different cast on Thursday, just looking for the perfect fit and positioning.

In the meantime, he's getting used to playing with it.

"It's just new, that's the biggest thing," he said. "I've been used to doing stuff a certain way with my hands all my life. When you get your thumb taken away, it's just new. It's a learning curve."

Dumervil said he's hopeful he'll get his "partner in crime back" on Sunday, and Miller echoed that sentiment.

"I'm not at 100 percent, but I definitely feel confident enough to play," he said.

McGAHEE CONFIDENT, TOO

On the first play after the two-minute warning last week in Minnesota, Willis McGahee took a handoff and was wrapped up behind the line of scrimmage.

It was his last run, leaving his rushing total at 111 for the day, as he limped off the field after the play.

“I got tweaked," McGahee said Wednesday. "I got folded up in a pile. I really wasn’t expecting that. That’s really what it was."

McGahee said he felt good enough to go back into the game, but "there wasn’t any need to go back out there, because we were sitting on the ball.”

After an incomplete pass, Matt Prater hit the game-tying 46-yard field goal. After Andre' Goodman's interception, Lance Ball took four carries before Tim Tebow took the final carry of the game to position Prater's game-winner.

As for this week, McGahee was asked if he will play.

"Yeah, why not?" he smiled.

"Are you going to be there?" he asked the reporter. "I'll be there."

INJURY REPORT

Below is the injury report for the Broncos:

DID NOT PRACTICE: S David Bruton (Achilles), T Ryan Clady (knee), RB Willis McGahee (knee) and WR Eddie Royal (concussion)

LIMITED: LB Von Miller (thumb)

FULL: S Quinton Carter (heat cramps), RB Jeremiah Johnson (ankle) and DT Mitch Unrein (back)

For the Bears:

OUT: QB Jay Cutler (right thumb)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: RB Matt Forte (knee) and S Major Wright (shoulder)

LIMITED: DT Anthony Adams (back), CB Charles Tillman (quadricep) and LB Brian Urlacher (quadricep)

FULL: DT Henry Melton (knee)