ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- After days of off-the-field worries that surrounded head coach John Fox’s open heart surgery earlier this week, the Broncos returned to their on-field business Wednesday as healthy as they have been since the opening weeks of the regular season.
Cornerback Champ Bailey (left foot), safety Duke Ihenacho (ankle) and wide receiver Wes Welker (ankle) were the only players held out of practice. The Broncos expect Ihenacho and Welker to improve over the next three days and both will have a chance to play on Sunday in San Diego while Bailey worked with strength coaches off to the side during practice.
Tight end Julius Thomas, running back Knowshon Moreno, tackle Orlando Franklin and tight end Joel Dreessen, who were all held out of practice Monday, were back on the field Wednesday. Thomas (ankle), center Manny Ramirez (knee), Dreessen (knee) and Franklin (ankle) were limited in the practice.
Bailey, who suffered his original injury against the Seahawks in the preseason and re-aggravated it in the Broncos’ Oct. 20 loss in Indianapolis, has played in just two games this season. Bailey started and finished the game against Jacksonville (Oct. 13) before leaving the game against the Colts in the second quarter.
He has not played since. This is just the second time in Bailey’s career when he has missed more than three games in a season -- he missed seven games in 2008 because of a groin. That injury was severe enough that Bailey said it caused him to re-think his offseason workout regimen and included far more flexibility work.
“We’re getting ready for San Diego,’’ said interim coach Jack Del Rio. “ … It’s a good team, it’s a division games and all of our attention in getting prepared for that.’’