ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- When all was said and done, Denver Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan suffered three separate injuries to his left leg and was in just 99 plays on defense before his 2014 season ended with a dislocated kneecap.
In the weeks and months that have followed, Trevathan has consistently promised he would return "better than ever" and be ready to play in 2015.
And on Saturday night, Trevathan will get to at least dip his cleats back into the NFL pool. He is slated to be in roughly 20 plays in the Broncos' preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers, his first game action since Dec. 14 when he suffered the kneecap injury.
In all, he played in just three games last season and made one start, Oct. 12 against the New York Jets -- a game in which he suffered the second of two fractures in his leg last season.
"The emotions are going to show on game day," Trevathan said, following Thursday's practice.
Said Broncos coach Gary Kubiak: "I'm going to put a play count on him. He'll probably play about 20 plays. I think Danny's working toward opening day."
With Trevathan's return, Saturday's game will be the first and only time the Broncos line up with their expected defensive starters. The team's regulars are not expected to play in next Thursday's preseason finale against the Arizona Cardinals. The regulars are expected to play at least a half Saturday night.
Trevathan and Brandon Marshall, the team's other starting inside linebacker, have each been limited throughout the offseason program and early in training camp as they returned from their injuries. Marshall had offseason foot surgery and will play the season with two screws in his foot -- the screws will then be removed next offseason.
Marshall was in 16 plays against the Houston Texans last week, his first appearance in this preseason. He finished with three tackles and knocked down two passes.
Trevathan has steadily done more and more in practice as training camp has gone on and has been a full participant of late.
"Danny's come back well, we think he's ready to play," Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. "... Getting those guys working together is important."
Added Trevathan: "I'm really one of those show-it guys. ... You've got to have your mind right the whole time, if you've got a weak mind, then your body is just going to go right along with it ... .
"I'm not going to say it was easy for me, but I had a strong support system ... and I just worked my tail off. Wherever I am I'm going to try to be the best person in that situation."
Trevathan led the team in tackles in 2013 with 124. Marshall was the team leader last season with 110, despite missing the last two games of the regular season.