Broncos' D.J. Williams may start in place of injured Wesley Woodyard
A starting linebacker from 2004, when he became the Broncos' first-round draft pick, through the 2011 season, D.J. Williams is in position to replace injured Wesley Woodyard and get his first start of the 2012 season Thursday night at Oakland.
Woodyard suffered a sprained ankle in the second quarter of the Broncos' 31-23 victory Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and did not return for the second half.
He didn't participate Tuesday in what will be the Broncos' only full practice of the week.
This is why the Broncos hung in there with Williams through two suspensions that forced him to miss the first nine games this season.
"It's going to have an impact," Broncos linebacker Von Miller said. "Wesley's been playing well for us here for the last ... really, all season. But D.J., he's ready to go. If Wood can't go, D.J. will step right in at the position. That's the same thing Wood did for D.J. at the beginning of the year. I think D.J. will be ready to go, and he'll definitely take advantage of his opportunity."
There is hope Woodyard will be able to play the next week at Baltimore.
Stokley still down.
It appears slot receiver Brandon Stokley will miss his second consecutive game with a hip injury.
Stokley didn't play against the Buccaneers, and the short turnaround for Thursday night's game won't help. Stokley observed but did not participate in the Broncos' practice Tuesday.
With Stokley down, the Broncos primarily used two-tight end sets against Tampa Bay, with Jacob Tamme essentially playing the slot. Tamme led the team with nine catches.
Also plaguing the Broncos' receiving corps is the fact Matt Willis was limited Tuesday with a knee injury.
Time for Broncos to run.
Some of the Broncos' offensive success this season must rub on John Fox's soul. Fox is a defensive-minded, run-oriented coach, not that he minds having Peyton Manning as his quarterback and an offense that ranks third with 29.1 points per game.
The playoffs, though, are on the other side of this dwindling regular season, and at some point — maybe only for one game, maybe only for one half — the Broncos have to improve on a running game that ranks 22nd in the league.
"I know that's certainly something that Coach Fox and Coach (Mike) McCoy emphasized today," Manning said. "That is something that we feel like we have to be able to and do better. Especially as potential (bad) weather approaches, that run game is something you want to have clicking on all cylinders."
Broncos right tackle Orlando Franklin, though, said too much can be made of parts when it's about the sum.
"Winning football games, that's the point of emphasis," he said.