ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --The Broncos will be without a slew of starters Sunday in the season finale against Oakland -- but they will have Matt Paradis, who is expected to play, even though surgeries await.
1. TWO PROCEDURES LOOMING FOR PARADIS
Center Matt Paradis hasn't missed any of his team's offensive snaps in the last two seasons. But keeping that distinction this year has meant playing through injuries to both hips that will require two offseason surgeries.
The procedures will be staggered, Paradis said, allowing him to recover and get back on his feet from the first before having the second.
Paradis didn't want to get into the specifics of a timetable for his return in the offseason, but hoped it would be by the start of organized team activities, which are expected to begin in May, one month after team-organized offseason workouts begin.
"We're going to get the surgeries done and be back as soon as possible, and hopefully that means OTAs," Paradis said.
Despite the hip issues, Paradis has played every offensive snap this season, giving him a league-high 2,201 snaps in the previous two seasons.
He had little doubt that he could keep playing through the discomfort, which necessitated a slew of practice rest days.
"I was confident. The training staff was great and had a great plan working through the injuries," Paradis said.
That durability is a point of pride, but he knows it's also a result of good fortune, and not just his own work.
"Everyone gets injured. It's more of a luck thing to be able to play that much," Paradis said. "But it's an honor, and I'm trying to stay on that path.
Take a look at the five most-important matchups of the Broncos' final game of the season. (Photos by AP)
- GAME FLOW WILL DETERMINE DIVISION OF QB REPS**
Head Coach Gary Kubiak said he had an idea how he would split the workload between Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian, but that he wants to see how Sunday's game progresses.
"I could sit here and tell you they're going to play half and half, but let me see how the game goes," Kubiak said.
"Hopefully there are 75 snaps for us, and they both play -- what's half of 75? I'm an Aggie," he said, smiling as he referenced his beloved alma mater, Texas A&M.
But Kubiak did say they will not alternate snaps, as Dan Reeves did with Tommy Maddox and Shawn Moore 24 years ago.
3. FOR LINE, FOCUS STILL ON THE MOMENT
Few position groups league-wide have been under more scrutiny than the Broncos' offensive line, which struggled to find consistency throughout the season, leading to rampant speculation about changes in the group.
Paradis, a Pro Bowl alternate who is ProFootballFocus.com's second-highest-rated center, says he hasn't thought about any potential changes to his position group.
"I'm focused on Oakland and finishing the season strong," he said.
Kubiak said Wednesday that Billy Turner might see more repetitions than he had in the last two games, when he played 25 snaps, but added that the line would "pretty much stay the way it's been."
When asked about the performance of starting offensive tackles Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson, Kubiak said they've been "up and down ... like we have been offensively."
- GROWING PAINS FOR KALIF RAYMOND**
A bad decision on one punt that led to a muff and a scramble the Broncos won and a lost fumble on a kickoff provided rookie returner Kalif Raymond with a reminder of the progress he still needs to make.
But the mistakes must be viewed in context, Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis said.
"Everybody has to remember that he wasn't in there all year. This is his third game," DeCamillis said. "We have to keep him going and keep him positive."
DeCamillis felt the decision that led to the muffed punt stemmed from a punt late in the loss to Tennessee, which bounced at the Denver 9-yard line and then skipped back to the 2-yard line, setting the offense up in poor field position for its failed final drive that day.
In Kansas City, Raymond let the football bounce three times and then fell on it, but didn't quite corral the football, leading to a scramble that he won. ,p> "I think he had a little bit of a flashback to Tennessee when the ball bounced on him and he made a poor decision. That's one that we have to get corrected," DeCamillis said. "On the kickoff returns he did a great job with the ball in his hands and then he gets a fumble on the last one. We had some return opportunities and he took advantage of those.
"He just has to keep growing."
5. KUBIAK COMMENTS ON WADE PHILLIPS' CONTRACT
Multiple reports in recent days cited the pending expiration of the defensive coordinator's deal, but Kubiak said the contract situation with Phillips was "not uncommon" and that it would be addressed after this week.
"You have so many guys' coaching contracts, [asking], 'Are they up this year?' Not everybody is on the same cycle," Kubiak said.
"We think the world of Wade. Everybody knows the job that Wade has done. Those are things that will be addressed after we get through this week as we head into the offseason. Wade is a tremendous person [and] a tremendous football coach."