ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --The Broncos' running back situation will bear close monitoring from now until Sunday after Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson both missed a second consecutive practice Thursday.
Anderson has missed the last two days because of an ankle injury he suffered just before halftime of the 17-3 win at San Diego. Hillman has been sidelined with a foot injury this week, but managed to play the entire Chargers game.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak had expressed hope that Hillman would practice Thursday, but he was limited to the walk-through periods.
Kubiak said that he expects them both to practice Friday, but that there is "a chance" that reserve Juwan Thompson could make his first career start Sunday after spelling Anderson in the second half of last Sunday's win over the Chargers. Thompson had 27 yards on eight carries and 14 yards on one reception in San Diego, picking up two first downs on his nine touches.
"He's worked that way [as the first-teamer] the last two days," Kubiak said.
Thompson was one of just two running backs available for Thursday's practice; practice-squad back Kapri Bibbs, who was active against Cleveland in Week 6 when Thompson was injured, was the other.
Friday's practice will be crucial in determining whether Anderson, Hillman or both can play Sunday.
"[Friday] will be a big indicator for them, but our expectations are for them to be there," Kubiak said.
Thompson hasn't taken the same type of pounding as Hillman and Anderson, but he has been busy. He has been on the field for 154 special-teams plays, making him one of nine players who has seen 150 or more special-teams snaps.
"I mean, special teams is a job, too," Thompson said. "But as far as running the ball and getting hit a lot, yeah, I haven't been hit as much as those guys, and I'm ready to take on a role."
Thompson saw some spot work at fullback and as a short-yardage runner before filling in for Anderson last Sunday, but his opportunities were infrequent and limited by the injuries he suffered against Detroit and Oakland, when he factored into the game plan before being forced from the field.
"That was kind of upsetting because I did have some bigger roles, but that's the way of the game," Thompson said. "You never know what's going to happen when you play. Whether it's an injury or a broken shoelace, somebody just has to step up, step in or you just have to take a play off.
"It was frustrating, but now I'm back into the swing of things."
And if Anderson and/or Hillman can't play, he might be line to take the biggest swings of his career to date.
"We had a lot of confidence in him. He played a lot last week, and played well," Kubiak said. "He's in line rep-wise to go in there if need be."
The Broncos continue preparation for the Raiders. (photos by Ben Swanson)