ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- With the bye week having served its purpose for the Denver Broncos, they returned to the practice field Monday with a healthy start to the week leading up to Sunday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers.
From an injury standpoint, the Broncos are in far better shape at linebacker, wide receiver and offensive line than they were when they left for the bye. Outside linebacker Shane Ray, who is expected to miss four to six weeks with a sprained MCL in his right knee, was the only Broncos player not on the practice field Monday.
Linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who did not play against the Cleveland Browns a week ago after leaving the team’s previous game against the Oakland Raiders with a back injury, was on the practice field. Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said Ware is on track to participate through the week and play against the Packers.
“He looked good, watched him specifically in an individual drill, looked like his old self moving around," Kubiak said. “... Good to have him back."
Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who suffered a shoulder injury just before the end of regulation in the overtime win in Cleveland, also participated in about half of Monday’s practice. Kubiak said following practice that Sanders sat out team drills but took part in all of the position-specific work.
Kubiak added he expected Sanders to be a full participant in practice later this week.
“Really more individual than anything. ... A good 45 minutes was individual work, so he took that part," Kubiak said. “... Expect he’ll be able to do everything on Wednesday."
The Broncos' offensive line also showed a potential new look Monday -- as in, the projected starting lineup. Because of injuries, the starting line had practiced together just two times in the past four weeks. Left tackle Ty Sambrailo missed three games with a shoulder injury, while guards Evan Mathis (hamstring) and Louis Vasquez (knee) have missed some practice time as well.
The result has been a lack of continuity at times up front -- free rushers coming at quarterback Peyton Manning while others rushers are double-teamed on the same play. The Broncos have rushed for just 3.6 yards per carry and Manning has been sacked 12 times and leads the league with 10 interceptions.
But all of the Broncos’ linemen took part in Monday’s practice. Kubiak said Sambrailo will still be evaluated through the week but the rookie has been fully cleared to practice.
“Everybody’s back, everybody took a full practice and Ty’s full speed," Kubiak said. “A big test coming for him this week when we put the pads on."
Asked if he hoped the benefits of some additional work together during the week would show up on game day, Kubiak said: “I sure do, I hope so. This will be the first week in a month or so where we start the week with them all in place. ... Evan looks good coming off the break, so that’s important. Lou looks better coming off the break, so hopefully we get a full week out of all of them as we prepare."