ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- When the Denver Broncos adjourned Friday for the weekend, they were still feeling the sting of a 27-20 loss the San Diego Chargers last Thursday night as well as a lost opportunity.
The Chargers’ win had potentially erased a one-game lead over the New England Patriots and knocked the Broncos from the front of the line for home-field advantage in the AFC during the playoffs because of a 34-31 loss to the New England Patriots last month.
But Monday the Broncos returned to work, and by virtue of the Miami Dolphins’ win against the Patriots Sunday, were back right where they were a week a ago, the AFC's top seed.
“And it does give us juice," said Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.
“Of course it feels better to control your own destiny," said defensive tackle Terrance Knighton. “But we don’t want any scares like that, we want teams to come through Denver ... and we’ve got to handle our business."
The Broncos have two games remaining, both on the road -- Sunday against the 2-14 Houston Texans and Dec. 29 against the 4-10 Raiders. They are tied at 11-3 with the Kansas City Chiefs, but already swept the season series with the Chiefs, so will get both the division title and the AFC’s top seed if the Broncos win out.
Monday represented a “bonus" day in the preparation week and the Broncos used it accordingly, using a practice to work starters against starters at times in team drills. And Broncos head coach John Fox also took the opportunity to point out to the team that the three teams that entered this past week as the AFC’s top three seeds -- Denver, New England and Cincinnati -- all lost.
“You just better have you’re ‘A’ game," Fox said. “This is a great example of that ... if we learned a lesson, it wasn’t maybe individual games, it’s just what happened to us and what we need to do moving forward."
The Broncos did not have quarterback Peyton Manning throw in the full practice, but Manning did go through the team’s walk-through earlier in the day. Wide receiver Wes Welker (concussion) did not participate in the practice, and Friday Fox said that Welker had not been cleared to return to the field.
Cornerback Kayvon Webster, who had surgery to repair a fractured right thumb on Friday, is not expected to practice this week or play Sunday in Houston. Webster is expected to be able to play with a cast on his hand in the regular-season finale in Oakland.
Defensive end Derek Wolfe also did not practice, but he has begun doing some work with the team’s strength and conditioning staff as he returns from what the team called “seizure-like symptoms" Nov. 29.