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The gang's all here: Broncos on injured reserve will travel with teammates on team plane Sunday

Posted Jan 29, 2016

Two years ago, the injured Broncos arrived four days later. This time, they'll receive the full Super Bowl experience from start to finish.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Some tweaks to the Broncos' Super Bowl week plan are small and under the radar. Others, like the decision to wear white jerseys, are impossible to avoid, but don't stand to have much impact on the actual game beyond a bit of superstition and mojo.

And then there are the moves that are simply about doing the right thing by the people that got you to the Super Bowl.

That, above all, is why players on injured reserve will travel with the team on its charter to San Jose this Sunday, rather than remaining back in Colorado to continue receiving treatment and then flying to the game site later in the week, as was the case two years ago.

"Everybody's going Sunday. We're all together, and we're going to do this together," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said. "That's the way we've been all year."

"For those IR guys to be able to come, that's great," added cornerback Chris Harris Jr. "To be able to show the true team aspect, that everybody's been needed, everybody's used -- I like that approach."

No one knows that better than Harris, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the divisional-round win over San Diego that year and was on injured reserve. While his teammates flew to Newark. N.J. in advance of Super Bowl 48's week of incessant build-up, Harris was in Denver four extra days, arriving on the following Thursday.

"I wasn't even a part of the team," Harris remembered.

That meant missing Media Day, missing the team charter's heralded arrival at an airport hangar, missing the sight of hordes of fans lining the streets around the Broncos' hotel to give them a warm welcome to their home away from home.

Harris, Ryan Clady, Von Miller, Derek Wolfe and eight others happened to be injured at the time, they couldn't experience all of what they helped create, solely because they happened to be on injured reserve.

"That was so hard, to not be in any of that, to enjoy that," Harris said. "For those guys to get to enjoy that this time -- I'm happy for them."

That isn't just about players like Omar Bolden, Ty Sambrailo and David Bruton Jr., who contributed in the regular season before succumbing.

Tight end Jeff Heuerman and left tackle Ryan Clady are a part of it, as well, even though their seasons ended with torn anterior cruciate ligaments suffered last May. Both have been at the UCHealth Training Center as often as their teammates, focused on rehabilitation work.

"They've been a big part of us. They've been with us," Kubiak said. "One thing I ask guys to do when they're on IR is to stay involved with the team; don't just remove yourself. Guys have done that. It's important."

For the star-crossed Clady, the situation is uniquely painful, because this will now be the second Super Bowl for which he was unavailable because of a season-ending injury.

"It's got to be hard for him, missing two Super Bowls," Harris said. "For him to travel with us on Sunday -- I definitely know it means a lot to him."

Airport arrival, 2014

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