Orton cleared to practice

Denver quarterback Kyle Orton looks like he is on his way to starting on a short week Thursday night against the visiting New York Giants as the Broncos try to snap a four-game losing streak and stay relevant in the playoff hunt.

The team pronounced Orton ready to practice Monday as the Broncos try to rebound from a 32-3 home loss to San Diego on Sunday in which the Chargers took sole possession of first place in the AFC West. The team did not practice but put out the participation list as a league mandate because the game is three days away. Thus, it appears Orton is on schedule to play Thursday. Orton didn’t practice all last week leading up to the game.

Orton didn’t start the game. But he did spell backup Chris Simms in the second quarter as Denver fell behind, 13-0. Simms struggled badly. Orton gave Denver a spark and played pretty well, despite limping badly.

After the game, Denver coach Josh McDaniels said he didn’t think Orton suffered a setback in the game, he was hurt Nov. 15 at Washington and he missed the second half.

While Orton is making strides toward playing Thursday, safety Brian Dawkins may be in jeopardy of not playing. He left in the first half Sunday with a neck injury and he did not return. Dawkins was not ready to practice Monday.

Denver right tackle Ryan Harris was not ready to practice with a toe injury. Harris was hurt Nov. 1 against Baltimore and hasn’t played since. Denver’s line play has suffered without Harris.