The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

Bron­cos in­side line­backer Bran­don Mar­shall will miss his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive game Sun­day be­cause of a left ham­string in­jury.

Line­backer Todd Davis prac­ticed on a lim­ited ba­sis Fri­day for the first time this week as he bat­tles through an oblique strain. Davis is ques­tion­able for Sun­day’s game against New Eng­land, but he said he feels a lot bet­ter than ear­lier this week and is op­ti­mistic he will be able to play.

“(I’m) en­cour­aged by what I saw. I just got through talk­ing to him walk­ing off the field,” coach Gary Ku­biak said Fri­day. “We’ll see how he comes out of it in the morn­ing, mov­ing around again to­mor­row.”

Corey Nel­son will get his third start this sea­son in place of Mar­shall. Zaire An­der­son is ex­pected to see ex­tended play­ing time whether Davis plays or not. If Davis doesn’t play, An­der­son will get his first ca­reer start.

“I’m just ready,” said An­der­son, a 5-foot11, 220-pound hard-hit­ter. “We’ll see when them pads come on. I ain’t too small. I hate when peo­ple say that.”

The Bron­cos have been pre­par­ing Nel­son and An­der­son for ex­tended play­ing time all week. Quentin Gause, a rookie called up from the prac­tice squad last week, is the only other healthy in­side line­backer on the ros­ter.

These in­juries likely will have a big im­pact on the way Pa­tri­ots coach Bill Belichick at­tacks Den­ver’s de­fense. New Eng­land has the NFL’s sev­enth-ranked rush­ing at­tack and likely will use a lot of run­ning back LeGar­rette Blount to test the Bron­cos’ 29th-ranked rush­ing de­fense.

Ros­ter tweaks. The Bron­cos pro­moted out­side line­backer Vontarrius Dora from the prac­tice squad to their ac­tive ros­ter Fri­day. In a cor­re­spond­ing move, they placed long-snap­per Casey Kre­iter on in­jured re­serve.

“Con­grat­u­la­tions to Dora. The kid has done a great job, so he gets re­warded,” Ku­biak said. “You may see him be­fore the year is out. He’s got a bright fu­ture.”

Dora, if ac­tive on game days, will pro­vide spe­cial-teams help and out­side line­backer depth. The 6-4, 256-pound rookie col­lege free agent out of Louisiana Tech had a strong sum­mer and pre­sea­son push­ing Dekoda Wat­son for the fifth out­side line­backer ros­ter spot. Dora had two sacks in the Bron­cos’ pre­sea­son opener against Chicago.

Kre­iter was the Bron­cos’ long-snap­per for much of the sea­son be­fore suf­fer­ing a calf in­jury against the Saints. He missed the past three games. Vet­eran Thomas Gaf­ford has re­placed Kre­iter.

Rico up­date. Bron­cos of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Rick Den­ni­son missed prac­tice for the third day while deal­ing with a fam­ily mat­ter, but Ku­biak said he was sched­uled to re­turn Fri­day af­ter­noon.

Quar­ter­backs coach Greg Knapp has as­sumed Den­ni­son’s role through­out the week, but Ku­biak said he has been in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Den­ni­son daily about the game plan.

Foot­note. Den­ver signed line­backer Kevin Syn­der to its prac­tice squad. He’ll wear No. 46.

Den­ver Bron­cos in­side line­backer Corey Nel­son will get his third start this sea­son in place of in­jured Bran­don Mar­shall. John Leyba, The Den­ver Post

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