ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- This is why a bye week can help.
Quarterback Demaryius Thomas headlined a handful of Broncos held out from Tuesday's practice in the Broncos Fieldhouse, showing how the Broncos would take advantage of the free pass into the divisional round that they earned with a 12-4 record and the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs.
Head Coach John Fox categorized Tuesday as a "rest day" for the 14-time Pro Bowl QB, who suffered a thigh injury against the Chargers on Dec. 14 has been listed on the injury report ever since.
"I think one of the advantages of a bye week is you get the opportunity to rest some veteran players and we did as such," Fox said.
Wide receivers Wes Welker, Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas were all at practice, but none wore helmets and threw the football to their fellow receivers during a drill at the start of the 65-minute session. All have dealt with injuries in recent weeks: Welker had an ankle problem that landed him on the injury report in Week 15, Sanders has a hip injury that limited him in practice last week, and Thomas has played through hip and ankle injuries in recent weeks.
Safety T.J. Ward practiced in a helmet for the first time since suffering a neck strain Dec. 22 at Cinicinnati. Ward was limited last week but did not practice in a helmet leading up to the 47-14 win over Oakland, for which he was inactive.
"Day-to-day," Ward said. "You know, it's my first time in the playoffs, so I wouldn't miss it for the world, but if I'm not healthy, then I'm not going to risk (it) -- especially a neck injury. "It's very concerning," Ward added later. "You can't play this game without your neck, and you can't even play it if it's not 100 percent. Hopefully (it's) getting better. It's getting better right now, but [the game] is a couple of weeks away."
Four other players were not at practice Tuesday: guard Orlando Franklin, safety David Bruton Jr., linebacker Brandon Marshall and running back Juwan Thompson. Franklin and Bruton were concussed Sunday and are in the league-mandated post-concussion protocol. Thompson has hip and knee injuries, and Marshall has not played since suffering a foot sprain early in the win over San Diego on Dec. 14.
The Broncos have one more practice this week, on Wednesday morning, before getting three days off.
Check out the action as the Broncos practiced indoors during their bye week, with a few veterans taking it easy.