ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --C.J. Anderson will not play on Sunday. That much, the Broncos know.
But the status of the Broncos' No. 1 running back beyond this week remains up in the air, with more illumination set to come after he undergoes surgery late Thursday afternoon in California.
Anderson's status is where the Thursday takeaways begin.
1. ANDERSON SET FOR SURGERY
After a morning filled with reports, speculation and unnamed sources, Head Coach Gary Kubiak said after Thursday's practice that he expected to know more about Anderson's prognosis at some point after his surgery, no later than Friday morning.
"I think the positive thing is that he played in the game; he played through it," Kubiak said. "There's obviously something they need to go repair, so we need to see to what degree that is, so let's find out."
Backup Kapri Bibbs said Anderson knew something was amiss during the game.
"He likes to talk, and he likes to tell you whenever he's feeling some type of way, and he said, 'Man, I just felt something.' That's exactly what he said to me," Bibbs said.
"He said, 'I felt like I felt something, but I'm good; I feel real good.' He came back in the game, and he did what he did -- he rushed for 107 yards and he carried the ball and carried us to a win. I don't think that injury really affected what he did on the field."
Kubiak said he talked to Anderson before the team meeting Thursday morning.
"He's in good spirits," Kubiak said. "He's out there [in California] with his family. I think he understands what we have to go to today, and we'll keep our fingers crossed on the other end."
Before undergoing the knee procedure, Anderson tweeted out a message to fans:
2. BIBBS: "OBVIOUSLY NOW I'M GOING TO GET THE BALL MORE"
Although Devontae Booker is a rookie, his work sharing the load with Anderson the last three weeks has helped him prepare for starting; the only real change in how he's used is that he'll get the first snaps of the game, and will play a bit more. Booker's percentage of snaps increased from 20.1 percent in Weeks 1-4 to 38.0 percent in Weeks 5-7, including 35 of 64 snaps Monday night.
For Bibbs, it's a quantum leap. He has only 18 regular-season offensive snaps so far this year -- and in his entire career -- with none coming in the last three games. Nevertheless, he says his task will remain the same.
"I haven't approached this week any differently than I have any other week," Bibbs said. "Mentally, I know obviously now I'm going to get the ball more. That makes me feel better. That doesn't make me think I have to change anything. That just makes me more juiced for what's about to happen."
And since finally cracking the 53-man roster on a longer-term basis this year, he's increased his preparation.
"[This year] I've always prepared like I was going to start, because anything happens during the game," Bibbs added. Just like in the first quarter, C.J. goes down, and the running backs coach [Eric Studesville] turns around and says to me, 'All right, here you go,' like it's your time." **
- BIBBS EXPECTS NO DROPOFF**
After Monday night's 190-yard rushing performance, Bibbs vows the running game will remain effective with Anderson sidelined and he and Booker splitting the repetitions.
"Book is ready to play. I'm ready to play," Bibbs said. "I don't think there's going to be any dropoff. I think we're going to go in there and we're going to handle our business."
One reason why Bibbs expects that is his improved play and work ethic this year, something he began demonstrating in the offseason, when he knew he faced the most critical juncture of his career and then seized the No. 3 job, beating out veteran Ronnie Hillman.
"Kapri changed himself, in my opinion, just watching him work and watching him work at the game," Kubiak said. "He's a better player this year than he was last year for us, and he's going to have an opportunity now."
- THE JOB IS MORE THAN JUST RUNNING**
For Bibbs to adequately handle the role, he will have to hold up in pass protection. It often takes a running back years to master that aspect of the job, and Anderson is one of the league's best at it, not just as a blocker, but in helping the quarterback with his pre-snap reads to identify the potential source of pressure, especially up the middle.
"I've definitely improved on pass protection, definitely improved on being able to see defenses," Bibbs said. "The experience in being able to play multiple preseasons, and being able to be around guys like C.J. and watch the way they've studied and played the game, and seeing blitzes [at] Peyton, and the practice stuff they put us through, it makes it so much easier now, being older and being more mature about it all."
One thing Bibbs said he learned was the necessity of investing extra time at home into studying film and tendencies to help understand what to look for before the snap.
"Obviously, to know the shell of a defense, and [that] linebackers lie; safeties tell the truth, that sort of thing," Bibbs said. "Everything moves so much slower when you see the looks that they do; it kind of goes in slow motion when you know it."
But the game only slows down with time and knowledge. After two seasons spent mostly on the practice squad, Bibbs has plenty of both.
"I just think I got better at looking at defenses and actually breaking down teams, and going through every single blitz that they've ever run, seeing how they doing it and why they're doing it," Bibbs said.
Relive the Broncos vs. Chargers series history with photographs dating to the teams' AFL roots in the 1960s.
- TALIB, PARADIS, MARSHALL EXPECTED TO RETURN FRIDAY**
After watching the last two practices from the sideline, cornerback Aqib Talib, center Matt Paradis and inside linebacker Brandon Marshall are expected to return to practice Friday from lower back, hip and hamstring injuries, respectively.
Kubiak noted that in the cases of all three players, the quick turnaround from a Monday night game was a factor in keeping them out of action Wednesday and Thursday.
"We came out of a real physical game; this would usually be a Wednesday for us," Kubiak said. "We're kind of playing catch-up with our preparation right here and trying to get everybody back feeling good."
All three could play against San Diego without practicing, Kubiak said.
"But obviously we'd like to have them out here [Friday] if we can get them out here," Kubiak said.
All could be game-time decisions Sunday.
On a sunny day with Virgil Green singing Stevie Wonder, the Broncos continued their preparation for a familiar foe. (photos by Eric Bakke unless noted)