The two people who are most relieved to have Broncos kicker Brandon McManus back for Sunday’s game at the Los Angeles Chargers: McManus and special teams coordinator Tom McMahon.
McManus missed last week’s loss to Buffalo because he was on the COVID-19/reserve list as a close contact.
In McManus’ stead was Taylor Russolino, who was called up from the practice squad and missed one field goal and two extra points in the 48-19 loss to Buffalo.
“Taylor was terrible,” McMahon said before practice Thursday. “He had a bad day. It got a little big for him with the wind — he didn’t handle it right. It shows how happy we are getting Brandon back. This is a tough league. It took Brandon McManus two years to kick a football in this league with failures and this, that and the other. You see how valuable those players are and it showed up in that game, not just on field goals but on kickoffs.”
Russolino remains on the practice squad, but isolated away from the team during their practices as a precaution.
“The hard part is to get a guy ready for those winds,” McMahon said. “The only way you can do it is you have to have practice and (we) got only two practices with him. … It’s one of those where you keep working with him and if something comes up, he’s learned from (last week).
“I want to see Brandon (kick) for every single week for the next four years, every single minute of the day, and every hour of the day. I want to see Brandon because he’s established himself.”
Chubb, Lindsay sit. Outside linebacker Bradley Chubb (ankle) and running back Phillip Lindsay (hip/knee) missed a second consecutive practice on Thursday.
“We’ll see how they progress through the week,” coach Vic Fangio said. “Hopefully, we might be able to get them to practice on Saturday some before we take off for (Los Angeles) and we’ll see. But I do think it’s going to go down to the wire.”
Minus Chubb, who leads the Broncos with 7 1/2 sacks, Fangio would turn to Jeremiah Attaochu to start opposite Malik Reed. Backups Anthony Chickillo (if active) and Derrek Tuszka would also see their play-time increase.
If Lindsay can’t play, Royce Freeman, who practiced Thursday after missing Wednesday (hip), would be the main backup to Melvin Gordon.
Friday off. Fangio opted to give the players Christmas Day off, folding that work into Thursday’s practice and Saturday’s walk-through.
“Ever since we lost our bye week, I’ve tried to give them a day (off) whenever I can,” Fangio said.
The Broncos’ Week 9 bye week was wiped out when they were “off” in Week 5 and the New England game was moved ahead seven days.
“If the schedule works out, I think it’s always nice if you can give the players Christmas off to spend time with their families,” Fangio said.
Footnotes. Defensive coordinator Ed Donatell on the Broncos allowing a 51-yard touchdown run by Buffalo’s Devin Singletary in last week’s garbage time: “We don’t like seeing that and we don’t like see it at the end. We were in a defense where we’re trying to make something happen so there is a risk-reward in it, but we have to make the plays as players and coach it better.” … The Broncos enter Week 16 with a league-high 30 turnovers. San Francisco is (29) the only other team with more than 24.