Denver Broncos | News

Injury update: T.J. Ward practices; Ronnie Hillman upgraded

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Peyton Manning broke down the huddle at Wednesday's practice, where the Broncos went in hats and no pads on a sunny Christmas Eve.

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Safety T.J. Ward returned to practice on a limited basis as the Broncos began their preparations for the Oakland Raiders on Wednesday.

His presence was another positive indicator after he suffered a neck strain in the fourth quarter Monday. X-rays at Paul Brown Stadium and a MRI examination Tuesday revealed no further damage, leading to hope that he could make a quick return.

Battered by injuries, Head Coach John Fox listed 20 players on the injury report that he recited after practice, which was held without helmets and pads. The Broncos had a similar session two weeks ago before playing the Chargers, but the choice Wednesday was due to the short turnaround time between Monday Night Football and the return to practice.

"I think more of the reason for our dress today was being that we played Monday night. I think it's very common for coaches to do that," Fox said.

"Our injury report's long because we have to report all the injuries. You get to this point in the season, there's more of them, but participation-wise, I thought we were in pretty good shape."

Only one Bronco did not practice because of an injury: linebacker Brandon Marshall, who is recovering from a foot sprain he suffered Dec. 14 at San Diego. Linebacker Lamin Barrow, guard Manny Ramirez and defensive tackle Mitch Unrein all missed Wednesday's practice because of illness. Three players were limited: Ward, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and offensive tackle Paul Cornick. Sanders has a hip injury, while Cornick missed the last two games because of a toe injury.

Thirteen other Broncos were listed on the injury report, but had a full practice Wednesday: running backs C.J. Anderson (ankle), Ronnie Hillman (foot) and Juwan Thompson (hip/knee), safety David Bruton (calf), offensive linemen Ryan Clady (thigh), Chris Clark (back) and Will Montgomery (knee), quarterback Peyton Manning (thigh), tight ends Jacob Tamme (foot) and Julius Thomas (ankle), cornerback Kayvon Webster (shoulder) and defensive lineman Derek Wolfe (knee).

Of that baker's dozen, Hillman is the most notable. Wednesday's practice was the first in which Hillman had full participation since he sprained his foot Nov. 9 at Oakland. He practiced on a limited basis in recent weeks.

"He's obviously further ahead than he was this time a week ago," Fox said. "The fact that we're on grass, not on [artificial] turf, (there are) a lot of variables, but I like what I see."

Hillman's limited work the last two weeks was enough to help the Broncos evaluate him, as well.


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