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Injury roundup: Julius Thomas (ankle) thankful for bye

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The Broncos hope a first-round bye is just what the doctor ordered for Julius Thomas.

After piling up 12 touchdowns over his first nine games of the year, Denver's play-making tight end has caught just three passes since spraining his ankle in Week 11.

"I definitely needed this bye," Thomas said Monday. "I'm looking forward to it. It'll just give me an opportunity to focus on rehab. When you're practicing and playing, it's kind of hard. It's a little bit of give and take. So this next week, it'll be big for me from a recovery standpoint."

With the extra rest, Thomas believes he can make an impact when Denver returns to the field on Jan. 11, telling reporters that he plans on "looking like the guy I used to be."

That would serve as a welcomed sight for a Broncos attack that has leaned on the run down the stretch. After averaging 323.5 passing yards per outing through Week 12, Peyton Manning has thrown for just 233.8 yards per start over the team's final five games.

Other injuries we're tracking on this fine Tuesday:

1. The happy and healthy New England Patriots were down just one man at Tuesday's practice. Wide receiver Brandon LaFell missed the session after appearing to injure his foot in Sunday's loss to the Bills, per Comcast SportsNet New England.

2. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told reporters Tuesday that he wouldn't rule out running back Le'Veon Bell (hyperextended knee) for Saturday's playoff showdown with the Ravens. However, Tomlin said the team would prepare as if the MVP candidate wouldn't be available.

3. The Cardinals saw defensive linemen Frostee Rucker and Dan Williams do light work on Tuesday, per Darren Urban of the team's website. However, quarterback Drew Stanton was not present.

4. The Dallas Cowboys announced that defensive tackle Henry Melton with miss the postseason with a knee injury.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps every Week 17 game and debates the MVP race between Aaron Rodgers and J.J. Watt. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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