ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In the Broncos' Week 4 win over the Jets, they rushed for a season-high 117 yards. Excluding a series of kneel downs from Brett Rypien, Denver carried the ball 27 times for 122 yards — and that rushing attack could be even stronger in Week 5.
Head Coach Vic Fangio said Friday that Phillip Lindsay was mentally and physically ready for "Thursday Night Football," but the Broncos took the "prudent" approach and held him out of the game. With a week of practice time, though, Lindsay should be ready for Week 5, according to Fangio.
Lindsay has played just 19 snaps this season, as he suffered a toe injury in the Broncos' Week 1 loss to the Titans. When healthy, Lindsay has posted back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons and complements Gordon, who ran for 107 yards in Week 4 and became just the eighth active running back with at least 50 total touchdowns.
If Lindsay is available Sunday, the Broncos' offense could conceivably change in a pair of ways. First, Lindsay's speed should give the Broncos' offense another element if Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur wants to rotate the two backs. Denver, though, could also feature both backs on the same play.
"We both bring different things to the table," Gordon said Tuesday. "Obviously, Phil wasn't playing so I don't think teams will have enough film to game plan against [the two being out there together]. We'll really be able to see how that goes for us, and I hope it goes well. We bring different elements, and Phil's speed is top class, so that's something they'll have to deal with. I'm pretty well-balanced myself, so when you put both of us out there you've got to pick and choose who you want to stop. [He's] just another playmaker out there that can help us win, so I'm excited to see how it goes. Hopefully it goes well, and we can go out there and make plays and help the Broncos win."
On the first play of the game, Lindsay lined up wide to the left alongside Tim Patrick and turned back toward the ball for a screen pass at the snap. Drew Lock chose to hand the ball to Gordon, who was in the backfield and picked up a 7-yard gain.
In the second quarter, the Broncos lined up in the pistol formation with Lindsay to Lock's right in the shotgun and Gordon lined up another three yards behind Lock. At the snap, Gordon flared to the right side of the field. Two defenders initially took steps to follow Gordon, which led to Lindsay being open on an angle route in the middle of the field. Lindsay made his way all the way to the Tennessee 2-yard line.
The Broncos are four games into the season, but they may still be able to use the element of surprise to their advantage when both players are on the field.
"Obviously, the game plan changes a little bit, I'm assuming," Gordon said. "I'm assuming they're going to try to get us both on the field and use us as weapons to keep teams uneasy. We both bring different things to the table, and I think we just need to be prepared to attack."
No matter who is on the field, Gordon said the Broncos will aim to continue their success on the ground in New England. If the Broncos can find yards on the ground, it should help Denver from being overly reliant on throwing the football against a defense that ranks 10th against the pass and sixth in interceptions.
"We've just got to go off momentum and build off our momentum," Gordon said. "They do a great job of taking out the best player. They're a great defense [and] bend don't break, so to speak. I've been watching them very closely. … They've got a great defense and do a good job of knocking the ball out, so if they give us an opportunity, we've got to make the best of it because they probably won't give many."
AN OPPORTUNITY TO BUILD ON WEEK 4
In 2018, before the Broncos drafted Bradley Chubb with the fifth-overall pick, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick attended Chubb's Pro Day at NC State. Belichick helped run the workout for the productive pass-rusher, but when they spoke afterward, Belichick acknowledged Chubb wouldn't have a chance of making it to New England.
"We're picking 31st," Belichick said to Chubb. "No chance we see you."
On the heels of Chubb's 2.5-sack performance against the Jets, Chubb will now face Belichick and the Patriots for the first time in his young career.
"He's a very disruptive player," Belichick said Tuesday. "He's big, fast, very athletic, has good instincts, plays hard, is hard to block, and he's an impact player for them defensively."
FINDING A LONG-TERM HOME
After a winding NFL career that featured stays on a handful of practice squads, Mike Purcell signed a three-year extension Tuesday that will keep him in Denver through 2023. Purcell said he was close to ending his NFL hopes to become a firefighter, but he persevered through being cut nearly a dozen times to carve out a long-term spot with the Broncos.
That he was able to earn that security near his hometown of Highlands Ranch only makes the extension sweeter.
"It's amazing," Purcell said of his extension. "It's a complete blessing, that's for sure. The journey has been up and down, and there have been multiple times when I've thought about hanging it up and saying, 'Maybe it's time to move on and start a real career.' To be home — home here with the Denver Broncos — my family and I are super excited."