ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos might need to account for injured players on both their offensive and defensive lines leading up to what is expected to be a physical game against the Dallas Cowboys that will be decided up front.
Defensive end Jared Crick (back) did not practice Thursday, a day after he had done so on a limited basis. Guard Ron Leary, who is in the concussion protocol, was also held out of Thursday's practice.
Leary did have a helmet on but did not participate in drills. He must be cleared by an independent physician at each benchmark of the protocol. Given that he hasn't been cleared to return to drills with two days' worth of practice to go before Sunday's game, Leary is still a significant question mark against his former team.
Broncos coach Vance Joseph would not say whether Connor McGovern or Billy Turner would play in Leary's right guard spot, or if the Broncos would consider another combination in the offensive line. McGovern played 33 snaps in Monday night's season opener after Leary departed.
It is the second consecutive week Crick has been dialed back in practice with a game approaching. In the days before the opener against the Los Angeles Chargers, he practiced on a limited basis one day and then was held out for the remainder of the week and did not play Monday.
Joseph was asked Thursday if holding out Crick, who has not played since suffering his injury in practice in mid-August, constituted a setback in his recovery.
"I wouldn't say a setback, we're just being really smart with him," Joseph said. "We want to get him totally healthy so he can help us in the future."
Adam Gotsis, who had what was probably his best game with the team against the Chargers, and Shelby Harris would likely rotate at the defensive end spots with Derek Wolfe. Gotsis, a second-round pick in the 2016 draft, didn't start Monday but played 31 snaps and finished with five tackles.
Zach Kerr, who did not play in the season opener because of a knee injury he suffered Aug. 26, has practiced on a limited basis this week and could also be in the mix at defensive end.
"[Gotsis] was very impressive," Broncos defensive coordinator Joe Woods said. "That first game he looked like a different guy. I was watching and I was like, 'Look at Gotsis.' He was getting off the ball, he was effective in the run game, he had some pass rush."