Broncos RT Harris to miss fourth consecutive game

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos will again be without right tackle Ryan Harris for their game against the New York Giants on Thanksgiving.

Harris dislocated two toes in a game at Baltimore on Nov. 1 and missed the second half of that game, as well as the next three -- all Denver losses.

Harris returned to practice this week, but coach Josh McDaniels declared him out Wednesday and said second-year pro Tyler Polumbus would start again in his place.

Last week, San Diego linebacker Shaun Phillips blew past Polumbus for a blind-side sack and strip of Chris Simms, who was benched after just five pass attempts and replaced by Kyle Orton, who hadn't started because of a sprained ankle.

McDaniels said the quick hook on the left-handed Simms had nothing to do with Polumbus' performance, and he said Polumbus remains the starter until Harris gets back.

Harris was hoping to get back into the starting lineup against the Giants, but with the game on Thanksgiving, the Broncos had a light week of practices, so McDaniels figured he'd give Harris another week and a-half to get healthy.

"He will not play this week. He's doing better. He's getting close. He's worked extremely hard to get back on the field. But I don't think we need to keep that a secret anymore," McDaniels said. "He did a good job yesterday at the workout and it's just not quite ready to go.

"And I don't think this is the week, you're bringing a player off of a fairly significant injury at his position, without a whole lot of live practice reps and practice periods day after day after day for him to get confidence in that thing, I don't think this is a great time or a great week to go ahead and do that."

The Broncos' offensive line has sprung some leaks during their four-game losing spiral that's followed their 6-0 start.

In addition to Harris' injury, Ben Hamilton, the longest-tenured player on the roster, lost his starting job at left guard to Russ Hochstein, who inadvertently jarred the ball out of running back Knowshon Moreno's hands for a fumble at the goal line in Denver's loss to San Diego on Sunday.

McDaniels cautioned against thinking that Harris' return in two weeks will solve everything up front.

"It's one of those things where you can't say we expect it all to fix itself when one player comes back because then you've got the wrong mindset," McDaniels said.

McDaniels said safety Brian Dawkins (neck) should play Thursday, and that Simms remains Orton's backup.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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