Denver Broncos Injury Update: Denver Loses Key Offensive Lineman

Christopher SmithCorrespondent IIIOctober 6, 2011

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 18:  Running back Willis McGahee #23 and offensive tackle Orlando Franklin #74 of the Denver Broncos celebrate McGahee's first quarter touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Denver Broncos offensive lineman Orlando Franklin was dismissed from team activities on Wednesday to handle a family tragedy. At this point, it is uncertain if Franklin will return for Denver's matchup with their division rival San Diego Chargers this Sunday.

The backups for his position are Chris Clark and Tony Hills. These two would need to step into an offensive line that's been shaky so far this season.

Franklin has showed great potential for Denver this year and has had success paving paths for running back Willis McGahee. However, the line as a whole has seemingly lost its basic instincts and has not lived up to its preseason hype. If Franklin misses the game, it will be one more matchup to add to the many that the Chargers plan to take advantage of this week.

It's not all bad news for Denver.

Defensive back superstar Champ Bailey will return in full force against San Diego. Denver had Bailey's full participation on Wednesday in practice.

Running back Knowshon Moreno and defensive tackle Marcus Thomas also made a full day out of Wednesday. It seems the injury bug might be finally making its exit from Denver.

Oh wait, not so fast.

New additions for the injury report in Denver are safety Brian Dawkins (ankle), defensive back Jonathan Wilhite (illness) and tight end Daniel Fells (knee). It may be safe to assume that Dawkins won't be ruled out over an injury that didn't seem to surface during last week's game. But with Denver's luck in 2011, it wouldn't be a big surprise to see Dawkins missing some time.

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 2: Danieal Fells #86 of the Denver Broncos walks off the field with security after an injury during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on October 2, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Ima
Scott Boehm/Getty Images

Wilhite has been extremely effective for Denver after being picked up on the waiver wire from New England at the end of the 2011 offseason. The only Denver win this year was cemented by a sack by Wilhite on Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton in Week 2.

Fells has been a force and a burden for Denver thus far. He's been effective for converting first downs, but suffers from dropped passes and big fumbles.

Other notables that continue their absence in Denver are wide receivers Eddie Royal and Demaryius Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas.

So far, I count 13 different starters the Broncos have listed on their injury report in 2011.

This bug needs to go away, or this season will be out the door before the Broncos know it.