Much has been written recently about the injury bug that has invaded Dove Valley this offseason and continuing on into training camp. When your injury report maintains a steady count well into double digits, it changes the way a team can practice, evaluate players, prepare for exhibition games, and build timing and cohesiveness.
Broncos head trainer Steve "the Greek" Antonopulos, may be the team's MVP thus far.
With the Saturday game looming large, let's take a look at what's at stake for both squads.
Missing in Action: Knowshon Moreno, Correll Buckhalter, LenDale White, Ryan Clady, and Elvis Dumervil are definitely out. Champ Bailey, Daniel Graham, Brandon Stokley, and Chris Kuper are not practicing Thursday which makes them doubtful for Saturday’s game.
In addition rookies DeMarius Thomas, Tim Tebow and Eric Decker are all suffering from minor injuries.
This means Denver needs to start building its foundation for the upcoming season. So far, they have not had a starting running back available and this week Justin Fargas will see some action. Still, he has been on the roster for only a little over a week.
What is most important for the Broncos for this game?
Moreover, the Broncos haven't had a truly complete starting offensive line, as they return only one starter from last year, Ryan Harris, who is also coming off an injury. Both are areas of concern as it changes the way an opposing team can gameplan for Denver.
Mostly, the injuries affect the ability for Josh McDaniels' to implement his complex offensive strategy of a balanced run and pass attack. It allows the other team to tee off and run more blitzes, run different coverages and place the QB in a vulnerable position.
And with Tebow questionable it puts the pressure on Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn to play the entire game. The more those two are on the field, the greater risk of one of them getting hurt in a meaningless preseason game.
As for the Detroit Lions, they have few major injuries but will have three healthy QBs ready for the game. They are a team trying to claw out of cellar and regain respectability in the NFC North, a brutal division.
The Lions have nothing to lose in this game and a lot to gain. They can come out and put a full-on rush on Orton and Quinn with their two hard-charging defensive linemen, Kyle Vanden Bosch, and arguably the best player in this year's draft, and Ndamukong Suh.
These players will be a true test for Denver's makshift offensive line.
If this doesn't make a Bronco fan (and head coach) pause and think, I am not sure what will. Denver needs to come out of this game without injuries, especially at offensive line and at QB. Anything less will be a disaster, no matter what the final score.