ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --With Justin Forsett and Trevor Siemian on the field, the Broncos turned the page to the Titans and another crucial game in the AFC playoff race.
Forsett will play in Nashville on Sunday, but the same cannot yet be said of Siemian.
1. BRONCOS "VERY LUCKY" THAT FORSETT WAS AVAILABLE
Forsett's two previous seasons under Kubiak in Houston and Baltimore and work in a similar scheme in Seattle made him a rare commodity: a plug-and-play running back who needs little time to get up to speed in the offense.
Kubiak said he expects Forsett to play immediately, assuming the repetitions Kapri Bibbs had in relief of starter Devontae Booker in recent weeks.
"He's a guy that's had experience in the system and success in the system," Siemian said. "Just going through the walk-through, he picked up everything. It didn't even even feel like you had to catch him up too much. Lucky to have him here."
Added Forsett: "It's awesome, man. It was a godsend."
It's been a rough season for Forsett, who was waived by the Lions last week and was cut by the Ravens earlier this season. The only positive of the experience is that he arrives in Denver with little recent wear and tear; he has just 57 touches this season (44 rushes and 13 receptions), a figure that is his his lowest since 2013, when he touched the ball 21 times in nine games for the Jaguars.
"Very fresh. Very," Forsett said, smiling.
And in the scheme that he knows best, Forsett is determined to show that he still has something left, even though his 3.1-yards-per-carry average to this point is the lowest of his career.
"I feel like I still have a lot to give," Forsett said. "It's about legacy. I want to be able to get to a championship before it's all said and done, and I feel like being here gives me that opportunity."
- SIEMIAN "FEELING BETTER"**
Although Wednesday's practice was only a walk-through session, the sight of Siemian on the artificial surface of the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse was a solid -- and necessary -- step as he recovers from a sprained left foot.
"I'm still taking it one day at a time, but I think today went well," Siemian said. "So far I feel like I've gotten better every day. I'm just going from there."
Siemian will wear customized orthotics to help him avoid any further setbacks as he expands his workload. Kubiak said he expects the second-year quarterback to practice Thursday.
"I'd still call him day-to-day, but my plan is for him to go," Kubiak said. Although Siemian itches to return, he doesn't want to be back on the field if he is limited to the point that his play hurts the team.
"That's the goal any time you're coming back from injury; you want to make sure you're not just out there playing, but playing well," he said.
"I think you want to be smart. Luckily for me, I have good people around me -- Greek [Head Athletic Trainer Steve Antonopulos] and all the trainers helping me out with that. I'm trying not to be stupid about it, and those guys are helping me out quite a bit."
- HOW SIEMIAN WILL TRY TO AVOID FUTURE INJURIES**
During his Monday press conference, Kubiak -- a veteran of nine seasons as a player -- alluded to the idea that a player must learn how to stay healthy, describing it as "an art."
"You have to know how to protect yourself and getting rid of the ball," Kubiak said then. "Hopefully he can improve on those things."
Siemian understands this, but knows there is a delicate balance between reducing the risk of injury and maintaining his game, which often involves using his feet or staying in the pocket until the last possible split-second to buy time for his receiving targets to get open.
"I think you want to be smart and protect yourself," Siemian said. "I don't think you can let it affect the way you play or how you want to play the game, though. When it's time to protect yourself, you've got to pick your spots, obviously.
"But I don't want it to change the way I'm playing the game."
- GETTING A BREATHER**
Three days after noting the fatigue of the team in the wake of its win at Jacksonville, Kubiak changed up the schedule, converting the Wednesday practice into a series of walk-through sessions at the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse -- one each for the offense, defense and special teams.
"It's huge, especially for us," CB Chris Harris Jr. said. "We've got a veteran team; I think we've played over 160 snaps [on defense] the last two games; that's tons for defense. Especially us on our side, we definitely needed it."
Given the choice of a traditional practice day or a rest day focused on mental work, the players' choice was clear.
"I'd rather be rested," said safety T.J. Ward, whose 845 snaps played this season leads the defense. "It's a long season -- especially during this time of year.
"Your body's wearing on you. I don't think the physical part is as important as the mental, especially if you're of a certain age in this league, a veteran in this league, you don't have to be out there physically taking every rep. It's not needed. It's more important to be fresh and recovered, and I think Kub's allowing us to do that. It's great."
Added Kubiak: "I just think we need a bunch of reps. To go get a bunch of reps today and to still be able to take something off their legs and make it more of a walk-through type of thing -- hopefully that will help."
Photos from the Broncos' Wednesday practice as they prepare for the Titans. (photos by Eric Bakke)
- DEALING WITH MARIOTA**
Tennessee's Marcus Mariota has become one of the league's best quarterbacks at pushing the football downfield; their average of one completion of 20 or more yards every 8.65 pass plays is the second-highest rate in the NFL.
But it's Mariota's legs that pose perhaps the most unique threat to Denver's defense.
"I think he's the fastest quarterback we've seen," Harris said. "We can't let him get out. We can't let him get loose at all, because he's able to take it the distance."
The Broncos have allowed 4.80 yards per carry to opposing quarterbacks this year, well above the league average of 4.07 yards per carry for quarterbacks. And while the league-wide average per carry is 0.08 yards less for quarterbacks than for all players, against the Broncos quarterbacks average 0.56 more yards per attempt than the average.
"The running quarterbacks have been killing us all year," Harris said. "That's something that we need to tighten up for sure -- especially this week, going against this guy."
When the Broncos and Titans met on Dec. 8, 2013, Denver came away with a 51-28 win. (Photos by AP)