ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **It's on to the Chargers, but without C.J. Anderson -- and perhaps without some other first-teamers, with four key starters set to be game-time decisions Sunday:
1. C.J. ANDERSON OUT A "SIGNIFICANT TIME"
Anderson underwent surgery Thursday, and he will miss what Kubiak termed to be "significant time," which will lead to a decision as to whether to keep him on the 53-man roster or place him on injured reserve.
"We have to look at the timeframe," Kubiak said. "So everybody's kind of putting their heads together on the timeframe. We have to see what we think is best."
Kubiak said he expected a decision by Saturday after meeting with Executive Vice President/General Manager John Elway and Head Athletic Trainer Steve Antonopulos.
Anderson's status will also impact the roster, as the Broncos need to activate Juwan Thompson from the practice squad if they are to have three running backs on the active roster, as they had in each of the first six games.
"We have some decisions to make to get three backs to gameday. Those are just things we're working through this afternoon," Kubiak said.
With Anderson out, Devontae Booker is expected to start, with Kapri Bibbs getting his share of repetitions as the Broncos look to keep the same kind of balance and freshness among their backs that they had with Booker and Anderson the last two games.
"They did really well," Kubiak said of their practice work. "'Book' has had a really good week. Kapri has had a really good week."
2. GAME-TIME DECISIONS LOOM FOR FOUR STARTERS
OLB DeMarcus Ware, ILB Brandon Marshall, CB Aqib Talib and center Matt Paradis are all listed as questionable for Sunday's game. Ware practiced each day this week, while Marshall and Talib sat out until Friday.
The Broncos' finished their on-field practice preparation for their rematch with the Chargers. (photos by Ben Swanson)
"DeMarcus has looked good," Kubiak said. "B-Marsh' got a little bit of work in today. Aqib worked pretty good today. That's something that we've been working with all week. Let's see what happens. He's had a good week."
Paradis has rested all week with a hip injury that he's "played through before," Kubiak said.
"Can Matt go play and lead our group on Sunday without practicing? Yes, there's no doubt about that," Kubiak said. "We'll see. We'll see how far he comes."
If Ware can't play, Shane Ray would continue starting at outside linebacker. Corey Nelson would start for Marshall if needed, while Bradley Roby would move up to the starting lineup if Talib sits out. Each of those lineup adjustments has been made before.
But if Paradis sits out Sunday, James Ferentz would make his first career start -- and Paradis would see his streak of consecutive offensive snaps end at 1,690, dating back to the start of last season.
- OF PENALTIES AND TRENDS**
The spate of penalties that has struck the Broncos in recent weeks is frustrating, but recent years have seen more penalties that at almost any point since 1990.
Through seven weeks, the league-wide averages are 14.0 penalties for 121.0 yards in each game for two teams combined, breaking down to an average of seven penalties for 60.5 yards. The penalty and penalty-yardage averages through Week 7 are the fifth-highest since 1990, with two of the worst three years coming in the last two seasons.
Further, this year is on pace to join the 2015 and 2014 seasons as the only years since 1990 in which games have averaged more than 110 yards of penalties combined between the two teams.
"We have to worry about ours, but I think it's going on around the league," Kubiak said earlier this week. "I think there are a lot of calls going on. You can look at the overall number of calls going on in a game week in and week out. We have to go address ours."
The Broncos are below average in both metrics, with 7.57 penalties (T-23rd) for 64.0 yards (18th).
As the Broncos work to remedy this issue, they can rest assured that penalty calls generally drop as the season progresses. Last season, there were 6.5 percent fewer penalties and 6.3 percent fewer penalty yards from Week 8 onward than Weeks 1-7.
Since 1990, just one season -- 2000 -- has seen the penalty rate increase after seven weeks. Since 1990, the average per-year drop in penalties called per game is 4.5 percent.
- WARD EXPANDS HIS ROLE**
When T.J. Ward signed with the Broncos in 2014, some regarded him as primarily a thumper against the run and on short to intermediate pass routes. But he's proven he can cover the entire field, and handle a role that includes some work in the box, and some work as one of the deep safeties to protect against the long pass.
A shuffling of sub-package duties in the wake of Justin Simmons' early-season injury further expanded the scope of Ward's responsibilities.
"The thing T.J. does that nobody understands is, he really had to change his role," Kubiak said. "We lost Simmons, we had some things going on, and T.J. is a guy that had to play a lot of different spots. But you ask certain guys to do special things, and he's a special player, so he's really having a good year."
5. A.J. DERBY HAS "COME ALONG WELL"
But that does not necessarily mean that the newest Bronco will be in the lineup Sunday.
"We went from not many tight ends to a bunch of them, so we have to make a decision on who we're going to suit," Kubiak said.
"We're going to try to get him going as quick as possible. Does that mean this week? I don't know. We'll see."
A look at a few of the matchups that could decide Sunday's rematch between the San Diego Chargers and the Denver Broncos. (Photos by AP)