Key injuries for Chargers, Broncos

San Diego running back Ryan Mathews missed practice Wednesday with a sore neck he suffered at Tampa Bay. He will be monitored through the week as the Chargers prepare to play a pivotal game at Denver on Sunday.

San Diego left tackle Jared Gaither missed Wednesday’s practice because of a groin injury. He didn’t play at Tampa Bay and he has missed five games this season. He will be monitored through the week as well.

For Denver, defensive end Elvis Dumervil (shoulder) and cornerback Tracy Porter (illness) did not practice Wednesday. Denver coach John Fox said Dumervil is day-to-day with a muscle strain. He still has a chance to play Sunday. Porter has been out for four games.

Denver guard Chris Kuper did practice on a limited basis after missing Sunday’s game at Carolina with a severally sprained ankle he suffered in Week 9. Still, I think Kuper may be a longshot to face the Chargers.

Fox said linebacker D.J. Williams looked good Wednesday in his first practice since serving a two-tiered nine-game NFL suspension. He will be eased back into the playing rotation.

In other AFC West news:

  • Barring a setback, expect Khalif Barnes to become the starting right tackle in Oakland on Sunday. He has been out since September with a groin injury. Willie Smith took over for Barnes and he struggled.

  • Add rookie nose tackle Dontari Poe (knee) to the list of the Chiefs who were limited in practice Wednesday.

  • Oakland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (hamstring) and tight end Brandon Myers (shoulder/concussion) were among the limited players in Oakland’s practice.