ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In what they hope will be an improved pursuit of touchdowns, the Denver Broncos will be required to play a little "mix and match" on offense Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy consistently has said he’s comfortable using any player in uniform to put together groupings that will help the Broncos put points on the board. This weekend, because of the team’s injuries at wide receiver and right tackle, McCoy will get the chance to test those words at a time when the Broncos are just 2-of-11 in their past three games at converting trips inside their opponents' 20-yard line into touchdowns.
“We have a lot of talented players, so we’re going to try to spread the wealth as much as we can,” McCoy said.
Wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders (right ankle) and Isaiah McKenzie (right ankle) both will miss the game, while Cody Latimer hasn’t practiced in several weeks because of a knee injury. Demaryius Thomas, who had X-rays taken on a lower right leg injury during the third quarter of Sunday night’s loss to the Giants before returning to the game, was held out of Wednesday’s practice and was limited on Thursday.
And while Broncos coach Vance Joseph has said he believes Thomas will play Sunday, the Broncos will need players such as wide receivers Bennie Fowler and Jordan Taylor, tight end A.J. Derby and their three running backs -- C.J. Anderson, Jamaal Charles and Devontae Booker -- to figure more prominently in the passing game.
Sanders is second on the team in targets (42), catches (25) and receiving yards (266), and he is tied for the team lead in touchdown catches with two. That’s a lot to replace at least in the short term.
Most of that will fall to Fowler, who had both of his touchdown catches this season in the season opener against the Chargers. Fowler has played as the No. 3 receiver, but he figures to get an increase in his workload as long as Sanders is out of the lineup.
“Bennie’s a smart guy. He knows what to do and that’s half the battle,’’ Joseph said. Asked if Fowler is ready for something closer to a leading role, Joseph added, “He has no choice.’’
“I feel like I’m prepared to play,’’ Fowler said. “Every day, you have to prepare like it’s going to be your turn. You can’t wait to be ready.’’
The Broncos also are expected to have to fill in for an injured Menelik Watson at right tackle. Watson, who left Sunday’s game with a calf injury, has yet to practice this week. Donald Stephenson has worked with the starters this week, but Joseph has said Allen Barbre could play at right tackle as well if needed.
“We have a lot of confidence in the guys we have,’’ McCoy said. “You always ask through the training camp and through the preseason games, do you rotate guys during games in certain positions? This is why, to get those guys ready. We have a lot of confidence in the guys that we have.’’