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Injury Update: Darian Stewart, T.J. Ward vow to return for Super Bowl

Posted Jan 25, 2016

After succumbing to ankle and knee injuries during the AFC Championship, safeties Darian Stewart and T.J. Ward promised they'd be ready for the Super Bowl.

DENVER -- As the Broncos take three days to catch their breath and handle preparations for the non-football and logistical aspects of Super Bowl 50, they will also closely monitor the state of their battered secondary.

Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. and safeties T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart all expect to play against the Carolina Panthers at Levi's Stadium on Feb. 7, but will spend plenty of time in rehabilitation.

Head Coach Gary Kubiak did not have an update on their condition Monday, but said "I think they’re both doing pretty well today. We’ll have to take it a day at a time. I think they both have a chance of being there for us in two weeks, but we’ll go a day at a time and see how things work out."

Ward and Stewart succumbed to ankle and knee injuries during the second half of Sunday's 20-18 AFC Championship win over the New England Patriots. Although both were healthy enough to stay on the sideline for the remainder of the game, neither could return to action, leaving Josh Bush and Shiloh Keo to play the rest of the way.

"I just got rolled up on," Stewart said of his right knee injury. "A lineman fell on my leg and it just hurt. It's something that's going to take rehab, but I'll be back in two weeks."

Ward suffered an ankle injury that he attempted to walk off on the sideline, but he knew he wasn't ready to go.

"I would have done more harm than help," Ward said. "I wasn't going to do that."

Both vowed to play in Santa Clara.

"I'll be ready [for the Super Bowl]," Ward said. "I guarantee that."

Added Stewart: "I will be [ready]. I wouldn't miss that for the world.

In their absence, Bush and Keo held their own on the back end. Bush had been playing in sub packages throughout the game, as he did the previous four games.

"I appreciate them boys, man," Stewart said. "They're real pros and smart players, and some people don't know about them. They're tough, and we need guys like that. I'm thankful for them. They filled in [well]."

Keo capped his extensive workday by clinching the win with an on-side kickoff recovery.

"He looked like an MLB shortstop with that one," Ward said. "Those guys, I've got a lot of respect for them coming off the street, learning the system and making plays whenever they're called upon."

Harris even had to see a few snaps at safety in the dime package on the final series, with Kayvon Webster working as a third cornerback with Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby.

"I had to learn safety on the run. That was very tough," Harris said.

Harris played safety in his college days at Kansas, but making a quick readjustment to this role was something new entirely.

"Joe Woods, he just came to me," Harris said. "We've got so many calls in our playbook, so I had to go through everything and try to remember everything. He pretty much went through every call and I had to learn that responsibility as fast as I could."

Despite dealing with the pain from a left shoulder injury, Harris did not make his left shoulder injury worse -- and played more snaps (82) than anyone else on defense.

"I just fought through it. I'm getting closer, but it's very hard to be physical, to just, go, lay out [and] tackle," Harris said. "I should be close to 100 [percent] as I can get for the Super Bowl.

"I just had to deal with the pain," he added later. "I got worked on every time I came to the sideline. I just fought through it."

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