ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- It was status quo for the Broncos in terms of injured players at practice, with
The Broncos still expect the three starters to be ready to go by next Sunday. Stewart and Vasquez are dealing with knee injuries, while Ward is nursing an ankle injury he suffered in the fourth quarter last Sunday.
"I feel great. I'm just resting and making sure I'm healthy when [Sunday] comes," Ward said. "I'll definitely be ready to play."
As they watched, their teammates continued their work -- which included simulated crowd noise. Two years ago, the Broncos did not practice with crowd noise leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII, and the noise and the need for a silent count led to a timing issue that gave the Seahawks a safety after a bad snap on the first play from scrimmage.
“We're practicing with noise," said Head Coach Gary Kubiak. "It [the crowd] should be split right down the middle. I assume that's the way it is.
"Peyton [Manning] mentioned that [noise was an issue in Super Bowl XLVIII] to me so we took the approach this week to practice with noise. We can always go the other way; that's a positive so we tried to approach it that way."
The Broncos tried to get most of their game-planning work in this week, treating their practices the last three days like those of a typical game week, and not one leading into a bye.
"[Kubiak] told us that we had a great week of practice and one of the best weeks we’ve seen," cornerback
Next week's sessions will "probably be a lot shorter," Kubiak said.
"Hopefully we’re short and very sharp and continue our meeting stuff," Kubiak said. "[We will] continue that process and how we prepare to play. I want them relaxed.
"They’ve done the work. They’ve put in the work, so I want them to relax next week and enjoy themselves so they’re ready to go."
There will be distractions next week, but they don't have to compromise preparation and focus, Kubiak said.
“I think you just talk about accountability. That’s the biggest thing," Kubiak said. "To get to this point in your football career, as a player and as a team, it’s hard to get there. You just want to know that everybody is doing everything they possibly can for next Sunday.
"That’s accountability by players and everybody, but they know that. I talk to them about that all the time.
"It’s a week of heavy distractions, but you work to be in those distractions. That’s where you want to be so you just have to handle those things and get ready to play."
Their next work will come at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. on Monday, with practices on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
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